"No matter how big and bad you think you are, when a child hands you a toy telephone....you answer it"

 I mentally prepare myself.  The first ten reps I will use the associative method for dealing with the stress.  Meet it head on, ears laid back, welcoming the slow torture, identifying with it, letting it have its way with me, laughing in its face.  But the next ten will require a different tact;   Disassociative.  Gung ho only lasts so long.  After awhile the mind must go to a happy place, so mental distance from the effort is better. I drop under the bar, look down at my feet and then I see it.  Another sparkle.  My resolve melts as I smile.  So much for meeting things head on.  Grinning and grunting just don't fit well together.

  My granddaughter is single handedly keeping the sparkle manufacturer in business.  In case you don't know, sparkles, also called glitter, are minute specks about the size of a grain of salt.  They come in assorted colors and reflect light.  Combine them with glue, cardboard boxes and decorations for hours of entertainment making crafts. 

     She isn't allowed sparkles at her house.  They are a nightmare to vacuum up.  Things are different at my house.  They serve as little sparkly reminders of the fun we have.  But the sparkling has gotten a bit out of hand.  She now makes pretend desserts which consist of sparkles, shaving cream, and colored toppings made from bath color tablets.  They actually look edible. Fortunately, I have sink screens which catch most of the sparkles as I clean up the toy dishes. I once heard ladies love a man who does the dishes.  It seems true.

     The phone rings and I let her answer it.  "No!!!!! I don't want to go.  Let me stay another hour.  Pleeeease.  I don't have to ask... I am always welcome."  She hands me the phone; "Here's Mom."  "Is it OK?" my daughter asks.  Silly question.  The hour becomes two.  More improvisation.  More fun.

     The only approval I want comes from a little girl who barely weighs fifty pounds.  I guess it is about perspective.  I may die tonight and I want my last thought to be "I didn't waste this day."  That I spent it with someone special and these moments will be remembered by a young woman far into the future.  Maybe as she tries cleaning up sparkles from her little girl.  Every father should live long enough to hear his daughter complain about the mess her child makes.  "Revenge is a dish best served by a grandchild", to paraphrase The Wrath of Khan.

     Yet for many, approval of their peers is foremost.  The next dan grade.  The grand poobah title.  Employee of the Month.  No one remembers who won the Best Actor Oscar in 1997.  Or who hit the most home runs in 2001.  Yet a child will always remember a good time they had with a parent or grandparent.  And sometimes being forever remembered by someone special is far more gratifying than being briefly famous to many.

     I figured out my priorities by asking, "If I knew this was my last day on earth, how would I spend it?"  The answer was easy.  I'd spend the day with my girls. It doesn't matter how, just as long as I am with them.  Once priorities are established, life falls into place. No decisions of real importance are left, just mundane choices - busy work.  View each day as the last. I phone every day to find out if my daughter and granddaughter want to do something.  If I'm told no, my day has been cleared.  It is out of my hands.  

     I was in the delivery room the day my daughter was born.  I knew at that moment why I was put on earth.  And the day my granddaughter was born I received my reward for doing the toughest jobs a man will ever face - being a good father and decent man.  I don't have to raise my granddaughter, that is her mom's job.  I get to enjoy and spoil.

     I am hardcore about training. Injuries can be worked around.  Make the time to train.  But I allow one interruption, one excuse to stop or suspend a workout.  It is easy to make up for a lost workout but impossible to go back and relive a play day. 

     Someday she will move away.  Maybe off to school or a career. The song lyric, "But I'd trade all of my tomorrows for one single yesterday," may become my anthem as I drift into the world of the old and forgotten.  So the best anyone can do is to make the most of the nows and not give the unimportant things your time.

     The biggest holiday of the year is this month.  Millions of people buying gifts that don't matter.  Toys which will be garage sale items in a year.  I hope I don't end up that way. Set aside and forgotten. 

     At least I will be easy to identify......  I will be the one who sparkles.