Bats over penguins. That’s how I describe things that defy expectations and leave me drop-jawed in surprise.
Years ago on a trip to Portland, my husband and I went to the Oregon Zoo mostly to see the penguins.
I love penguins. They’re like toddlers on a sugar high from too much birthday cake – fun to watch, if you don’t have to chase them. I could hardly wait.
So we saw them. They were great. Then we left to go eat. But a funny thing happened on our way to find food. We stumbled upon an exhibit of, yes, bats.
Bear in mind, I grew up in the South, intimately acquainted with all manner of jaw-dropping critters. But never in my life had I seen anything like those bats.
My husband, a California native/newspaper editor who prides himself on having seen it all, was duly impressed. But me? I was flat-out blown away. The point of that story is this: Sometimes we expect to see penguins. Then, out of the blue, totally unexpected, we get blown away by bats.
We can’t make it happen. It’s a gift, a surprise that surpasses anything we hoped for. All we can do is smile and be thankful and know we’ve been blessed.
This has been a bats-over-penguins kind of week.
My husband and I live in Las Vegas, a place with no shortage of jaw-dropping sights. But we were hungry to see family and friends in California. So we planned to stay for a month by Monterey Bay, a place we once, and will forever, call home.
Our expectations are simple: To spend as much time as possible with people we love.
It’s a good goal, don’t you think, for a month or a lifetime?
Early this week, I got to pick up my grandson, Henry, from his first day of kindergarten. His mom, my daughter, is a teacher at his school. She needed to stay late, so she asked me to take him home. I met her outside his classroom and we waited with dozens of other mamas and daddies and nanas and papas.
Watching my daughter wait for her little one, I remembered how I felt waiting for her on her first day of kindergarten. It’s such a joy getting to relive what it’s like to be a young mother, without doing any of the work.
When the bell finally rang, I wish you could’ve seen all those little faces lighting up like the sun as they spotted someone waiting just for them.
It brought to mind a simple truth: Children are not races or nationalities or “differences” of any kind. They’re just children. And they belong, not only to their families, but to us all.
Then I saw Henry flash me a grin as he hugged his mom and for a moment, I forgot my name.
Two nights later, Randy, my son’s 6-year-old, was all set to spend the night with us – until he popped out his front tooth. But his mom told him the Tooth Fairy could find the house we’ve rented. Then she entrusted the boy and his tooth to our care.
That night, I told Randy this story. Long ago, when his dad lost a tooth, he left a note under his pillow: “Dear Tooth Fairy,” he wrote, “Two teeth came out of my mouth but I lost one. Please give me double credit.”
Randy liked that story a lot. Then I tucked him in bed with his tooth under his pillow. And after he fell asleep, I helped the Tooth Fairy do her thing.
The next morning, Randy flipped up his pillow and found five whole dollars. He was thrilled. Especially after I told him it was five times as much as his dad got for “double credit.”
Our month by the bay with people we love will be filled, I am sure, with surprises. But this week will be hard to top.
Henry’s first day of school and Randy’s lost tooth were better than a zoo full of bats.
As my grandmother liked to say, it’s worth waking up every morning, and putting in your false teeth, just to see what on Earth will happen next.
– Sharon Randall can be reached at P.O. Box 777394 Henderson NV 89077 or on her website: www.sharonrandall.com.