Articles by Jim Gainan

As published in the Billings Gazette

Vitamin ‘F’ is the key to inspired living, sense of peace

Imbalance is defined as loss of equilibrium attributable to an unstable situation in which some forces outweigh others. We can experience imbalance in every aspect of life.  Nutritional imbalance can be fun at times especially when it includes eating a large piece of chocolate cake.  But, history has shown that too much of anything will ultimately do harm to us when imbalanced for an extended period of time. Balance in this case is achieved with exercise and reduced intake.  A lesson that has taken me 40 years to learn.

The other day my 3 1/2- year-old son experienced imbalance in his life.  The night started out like every other.  Dinner followed by an exhausting wrestling match.  I noticed that he seemed “off,” but had no idea the important lesson he was about to teach me.  You see, as the evening slowed down, darkness fell and quiet-time before bed loomed, I found a broken little boy standing at the side of my chair.  My inquiry about what was wrong was met quickly with, “Emily doesn’t like me!”  His sad expression and a tear in his eye let me know that this was very real.  As I pushed mute on the TV remote to quiet Nightly Business Report, I sat on the floor with him.  In a flash I remembered what it felt like to feel “unliked” by classmates but, I knew I couldn’t project that on his situation.  I needed to join him from a different place that included strength and empathy but certainly not sympathy.  To approach him with sympathy would only feed the imbalance he was experiencing.  Inside I thought to myself “What! How could anyone do this to my child.” But, I didn’t let that show.

A simple question revealed a big lesson.  I said, “Landon, why do you feel this way?”  He answered, “It makes my head hurt”.  I said, “Your heart hurts?”  “No”, he said confidently, “My feelings are making my head hurt.”

Thousands of pages of every self help and parenting book swirled through my head before I asked what happened.  He explained that Emily, his friend in pre-kindergarten had told him she didn’t want to be friends anymore. When I asked why, he answered, “Today, I told her I didn’t want to be friends and she told me that she didn’t want to be friends with me then either!” “Is that true?  Do you really not want to be friends with her?”, I asked.  He said, “No, I do, I don’t know why I said that.”

At this point I didn’t know who Emily was or that her mother was my wife’s dear friend from high school who she has reconnected with through our children.  But, I suggested that we give Emily a call on the phone and that he apologize right away for saying he didn’t want to be her friend.  He agreed but said, “What if she says she still doesn’t want to be my friend?”  Quietly I thought to myself, “Oh boy, you’ll learn about that later!”. But, I said, “It doesn’t matter.  What’s important is that you tell her how you feel.  It will make your head feel better.”  He agreed.  We both walked slowly to the room where Angie was sitting with the girls and I asked her, “Who is Emily?” She responded quickly that she was her friends daughter in Landon’s class.  Without explaining myself I said we need to call her.  Thankfully Angie had her number.  When I called her, I explained “this may sound strange but, can Landon talk with Emily?”  Intrigued she said, “Sure. Why?”  After a quick synopsis she hurried out of a church function to a quiet place where she could give the phone to Emily. With both of us on speaker phone she said “Emily, Landon wants to talk to you!”

You could have heard a pin drop when he muttered in boyish fashion, “Sorry”.  And I probed, “For what?” and he said “For saying I don’t want to be your friend because I really do.”  As only an angel could do she said, “I’m sorry too. I want to be your friend.”  To that he said “OK. Bye” jumped off the chair he was standing on and headed for the fridge. 

He was lighter immediately and the dinner he just kind of pushed around on his plate was now interesting to him as he realized that he was now hungry.  So, with a big smile, he opened the fridge grabbed a clementine, yogurt and a juice box and head for our bed for his nightly dose of “Curious George”. 

I watched him in awe as I realized that: I too get hungry when I get my life back in balance; What a relief it is to admit and correct mistakes rather than carry them around.  Vitamin ‘F’orgiveness saved the day and made my son’s ‘head’ stop hurting.

Next week I’m going to carry the Vitamin F theory a little further.  You guessed it, ‘F’lowers!

JAMES M. GAINAN Vice President Gainan’s Flowers and Garden Center p. 406-245-6434 c. 406-671-5881 e.