Ella got the paint and the paint brushes from the toy room. Jace got a small bowl of water for cleaning their brushes between color usage. And, I got a paper bag to open up and place on the kitchen table to protect it from the paint.
Then, Jace and Julia sat across from each other ready to begin. They both discussed their color options and asked for my opinion on the colors they chose for the ocean and the shell designs on the box. Then, while asking them questions about their favorite parts of their annual family vacations to the Jersey shore, they gabbed away, reminiscing about their experiences playing the games, enjoying the rides and eating at the restaurants on the boardwalk. Before they knew it, they had finished painting one side each, leaving the other two sides for Ella to do.
But today it was easy to get them to do this art project together because they knew it was for Grandma McGee, my grandmother and their great-grandmother. Even they think it's amazing that she's turning 95 years old. At their young age, they can't imagine being 95! It's also hard to imagine it because Grandma is so active and vibrant for her age. She's always well put together. She's always prepared for the day and always presentable with her hair done weekly and wearing a button-down blouse, pair of slacks, a pop of lipstick and some costume jewelry to match.
She's also the only grandma we know that still enjoys wearing high heels. Even her house shoes are wedges, including her flip flops! The joke was that she was born wearing heels and that the heels came out first! With her classic New York style, Grandma is one classy lady and the kids were excited to present her with this work of art not just because they loved her, but because they knew she deserved it.
Kids love to do things for others if you give them the opportunity. Being of service is a great opportunity to give and share aloha. It's an opportunity for them to feel they have some control, some power and something to offer to the world. They don't always have the ability to earn or spend money, but if given the tools, they are genuinely happy to show their love, kindness, compassion and affection by giving of themselves in any way they can - whether it's with a hug, a flower picked outside, a picture they can draw, color or paint, a card trick they know how to perform, a song they can sing or a chore they can do for you, like taking out the garbage. It can even be expressed in something as simple as inviting you to play a game with them or just holding your hand.
Aloha is in all of these things and so much more. So, the next time you want to do something for your child, consider empowering them with a project or challenge in aloha. Ask them if they could do something for someone else, what would that look like? Would they like to bake cupcakes or cookies? Would they like to paint a birdhouse? Would they like to put together a flower arrangement? Would they like to write out a greeting card? Or, could they pull weeds for their elderly neighbor?
Find something your kids are passionate about, have an interest in, have the talent for or even teach them something new or about something needed in your neighborhood or community.
They won't just cultivate their aloha skills, but they'll also build on their courage and confidence.
My nieces and nephew are competitive athletes, but they're also artists. They love to exercise their creativity. So anything they can do with color and their hands they're happy with.
Kids just need a break from competition sometimes. They need to learn that being the best is actually not always the goal in every endeavor. Learning how to focus on just doing their best is another great lesson in aloha. Taking a break from competition will also give them a mental break and allow them the freedom to exercise other forms of expression with less pressure and stress. It's an opportunity to learn mindfulness and cultivate self-compassion and self-esteem, where believing in themselves, believing in their abilities, believing in possibilities and believing that they are good enough as they are right now are paramount to cultivating their "self-powers."
On Grandma's birthday, I don't know what made me happier - seeing the results of the kids working well together out of love for Grandma or Grandma beaming with love, pride and joy over receiving this gift.
Either way, it was a good day to celebrate 95 years of Grandma, one afternoon of art with my nieces and nephew and an experience in aloha I'll cherish forever.
Live, Love and Lead with Aloha!