HappinessIf it’s past 9 o’clock kids should be in bed, or so the unwritten laws of good parenting dictate. But the breezy night just set in after a long hot day and we still dance our feet on the pavement on the way to the river.

We take the back alleys because they are unpretentious. No perfect lawns, no empty yards. There are signs of life in the back alleys, you see.

The boys hop and chat, one’s words stomping the other’s words because ‘oh, I had this thought and it’ll go away if I don’t say it now…’ and what do you do then… Word stomping has its place.

Today is not it. While one talks the other listens and finds something to do on the side. Kids’ hands and minds are such busy machines, they cannot sit still and they should not. That’s how they stay joyful. That’s how they learn the world.

‘I will call this happiness,’ big boy says, wrapping his palm around the big fluffy head of a Tragopogon.

This is happiness… the night breeze carries his words further. I smile. Indeed, nothing wrong with that.

‘I want happiness,’ little boy chirps in.

That’s when it gets better. They run to get the next happiness globe of fleeting stuff (literally) and their laughter hops along with them.

‘My happiness, I touched it first!’

‘Mom, you want some happiness?’ The best answer is the one my soul paints across my face; I smile because what else can match the state I’m in. I have some, look, it’s right here.

‘I want some!’ little boy says, realizing that the blob he was holding was taken away by the wind.

Big boy laughs and wickedly rubs ‘happiness’ onto his little brother shirt, throws me a big smile and does the same to my shirt. There are signs of happiness all over. Sticky, fluffy, goofy. Let the magic be…

We get home late, having bumped into every blob of happiness on the way. It shows, inside and outside.

Boys brush teeth, they ask for cuddles, and one more and then just one more… I am stuck in thinking of how simple it is to get some happiness.

It is. It’s what you make of it really. It can be as elusive as a blob of fluff that you have now and the wind takes away the next second. It could be that someone wrestles you to the ground and takes it away. Chances are you won’t be laughing but then again, why not? It’s already gone but there is more to get if you keep on going…

Happiness is there, but you won’t find it where the aim is perfection. Just ask the boys. The big fluffy happy blobs are all huddled in the back alleys, where it’s all real and some of the less elegant things show. ‘cause they do, life is like that.

As for that happiness? Open your eyes, stretch out your hand and grab it before the wind takes it away… and if it does, keep on going, there’s more.

And you know how I know the boys were right? Because this morning on my run, I took the back alleys as I usually do. There were big fluffy Tragopogon heads all along and though I did not pick them, they whispered their secret to me.

The boys’ dash hunting happiness during our late night walks, the laughing about all the happiness they can rub on each other or mine over the occasional ‘Don’t rub your happiness on me!’ – it was all there. And just like that, happiness was there too.

Really, it’s what you make of it. So we made it a Tragopogon fluffy head. In fact, I am ready to change the plant’s status: from invasive species to reason to smile and keep going. Wouldn’t you?