Yesterday I was picking up some lunch at a local deli and it happens to have a basket of lollipops for the kids that come in. Avery and Macks love going with me to pick up a sandwich because they know that they’ll always leave with a lollipop in hand. As they chose their flavors, Macks picked up a flavor that I knew he wouldn’t like. I warned him that he wasn’t going to like it, but like any three year-old, he insisted that he was right and took the pop anyway. No more than a minute later he came back to me telling me he didn’t like the lollipop and wanted another. I told him he could have one more and then we had to leave. He happened to pick another flavor he wasn’t fond of and went over to the basket to get another flavor. This time I refused and told him he had to eat the one that he’d gotten the second time. And in typical Macks fashion, he immediately dropped to his knees and began to throw a tantrum on the floor. Thankfully these tantrums mean very little to me these days and don’t seem to phase me in the least. I quietly waited to the side for my sandwich while Avery looked at Macks feeling defeated on the floor.

“Here Macks, you can have mine,” she suggested. “We can trade.”

He stopped crying and looked up to inspect the flavor that Avery had in her hand. As he stood to his feet he took the lollipop from her hand and handed her his.

“Thank you,” Macks said with a grin before giving her a hug.

“You’re welcome,” Avery replied with a smile.

And all was good in their world.

That simple act of selflessness and kindness that Avery showed for Macks isn’t uncommon in our everyday lives. She’s always bringing home extras of things for her brother and sister. She’ll save one half of her cookie from her friends birthday celebration so that Harlan and Macks can have some. She’ll happily be the one that gives up getting the last of something if she knows that someone else will delight in it.  She hates to see others hurt, and in turn will strive to do whatever she can to make them smile. Even if that means that she won’t benefit from it at all.

Avery loves loves. She always has. Every night as I’m putting her to bed, she’ll ask for a “huggie and a kissy.” As I put my arms around her to give her a hug, she’ll squeeze as tight as she can to give me the biggest and strongest hug that she can. Then ten minutes later, she’ll come in my room telling me that she can’t sleep because she wants to give me another hug and a kiss. I happily oblige. Her love for love is contagious. She goes to bed with a smile and wakes up the next morning with that smile still on her face. Happiness and love is what she her mantra and she’s constantly hoping to spread that to others.

Little did I know that it was only once I became a parent that I would do the most learning and growing in life. It’s through my children who show me everyday how to be a better person. I realize how cliche that statement sounds. Yet, sometimes it’s those things that we hear people say all of the time that end up becoming a reality in our own lives.

It’s Avery that shows me that our days can be so much brighter if we start them out with a smile, show a little compassion, and share the love.

Happy Birthday, Avery.