My older son is five, and is starting to become really interested in what things say if he can’t figure it out on his own. He recognizes some words he sees frequently, and some sight words from school. Recently, when we stopped at a familiar stop sign in our neighborhood, he said “Hey! What are those extra words under the word ‘STOP’ on there?” We’d passed this sign dozens of times since the, ahem, addition, but this was the first time he’d been looking, apparently.

photo: S. Bernhardson

photo: S. Bernhardson

I told him someone had painted the words “today is a gift” on the sign. “What? Why? What the heck is that supposed to mean?” I started to explain, “Well, you know how when you get a gift, it’s wrapped up and you don’t know what’s inside, but it’s really exciting, then when you find out what it is, you’re thankful to whomever who gave it to you? It’s like that, but with everything that happens. This day that you’re alive is a gift. I guess someone was trying to remind us to be excited about it and thankful for it.”

(As a sidenote, seriously, what’s with this deep graffiti in my town that I have to explain to my five and three year old? I need to think about adding the afternoon coffee back into my life if our local graffiti artists are going this route. Moving along.)

Well, my five year old loved this explanation, and was really excited to think of every day as a mysterious, exciting gift. “What a good idea! Mommy, can we please paint these words ALL OVER THE PLACE? So everyone remembers this ALL THE TIME? Every day is a gift!” After a brief “please-don’t-vandalize-our-town” speech, I told my son that while we can’t actually start painting this everywhere, it is something good to keep in your head. Today is a gift. You probably don’t know what it holds, but know that it comes with good intentions. Be thankful for it. A good reminder to all of us, from my son.

So while I won’t be sneaking around Connecticut with my boys, committing acts of well-intentioned vandalism, consider this your reminder from us: Today is a gift. Even if it’s raining, even if your car won’t start, even if your hair is flat, even if your kids are throwing tantrums. A gift.

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