I adore Ryan Gosling. In fact, I have serious Ryan Gosling issues. Ever since watching him in one of my favorite films, Lars and the Real Girl, I’ve been a fan. Okay. He is a bit easy on the eyes, but he’s also a legitimately good actor. So what if he’s roughly the age of a kid I would have babysat? Age only matters if you are a wine or a cheese anyway, right? Did you see him in Crazy, Stupid Love? There are exceptions that can be made in these type situations. I’m sure of it.
Today, the kids and I had a gosling sighting of another kind. As we were pulling into the neighborhood after I picked them up from school, we saw several Canada Geese with their flocks of young goslings. While I’m not a huge fan of the geese who permeate this neighborhood (trust me…they permeate…their poop is everywhere), their little goslings, all yellow and fuzzy every spring, are a delight.
So, we ran home, the boys did a bit of homework, and then we grabbed a couple half loaves of white bread that have been sitting on the counter too long to make it sandwich worthy and headed down to the lake in our park. When we got there, the geese did not seem to be anywhere nearby. I did see two adult geese without goslings, so I began to feed them while the boys stood at the dock waiting to see the babies. One of the geese I was feeding was limping terribly. When I got close enough to him, I noticed that his right foot was tangled in discarded fishing line. It was swollen to nearly twice the size of the other foot. I tried to get close enough to help free him but he was clearly in pain and did not understand that I meant to help him. I fed him some bread to ease my mind a bit, perturbed by human carelessness and wishing that geese had opposable thumbs so this one could free himself from his human entrapment.
Then I heard shouts from the dock. The boys had seen the baby geese. I rushed over to where they were. There were at least 17 of the little goslings, and the boys were beside themselves with glee. I’m grateful that my nearly 9 and 11 year old sons still find joy in little things like feeding geese and are not already cynical and disinterested like other boys their age. We spent at least a half an hour feeding those birds, sharing an occasional piece of bread with a couple toddlers who showed up too. It was 30 minutes of pure, in-the-moment happiness. Well worth the cost of a loaf of Wonder bread.
I like to think that when I take time to do little things like this with my boys I am making a difference in who they will become some day. I help them with their homework, I chauffeur them to and from tutoring and other lessons, and I make their lunches. All that is well and good. But, if something were to happen to me to take me from my sons, I kind of like thinking that what they would remember about me is that I could tell a merganser from a cormorant and that I did awesome voices for the characters in books I read aloud to them. I like to imagine that they might not remember that I barked at them too often and that they would instead remember that I would jump on their trampoline and get in spitball wars with them.
Lately I’ve been paying attention to how much the little things are the big things in life. A few minutes spent with those little geese today made a big difference to my boys. They talked about it all night long. When it comes to raising children, the little things we share with them are every bit as important as the big things we do to mold them. Keeping that in mind, I hope I always remember to make time for all goslings, not just the tall ones named Ryan.