As a parent of young children, I am frequently amazed by simple things. This week is no exception.
Just like any other parent, I adore my two children (albeit sometimes more than at other times). I take pride in them, love them unconditionally, live vicariously through them at times, and cannot imagine life without them. For any parent, this is simply a fact of life. Often, though, we don’t take the time to recognize how much our children love us back. This has never been clearer to me than this week. You see, this week I visited my son’s school to be the “parent helper” for his 30-minute art class.
This is a big deal if you are a kindergartner. In fact, my son has been looking forward to my 30-minute appearance at his school for several weeks. While I knew that it meant a great deal to him, it wasn’t until today that I realized just how much these little children take pride in us as their parents and share our adoration.
I’ll give you some examples that made this crystal clear for me.
Today, while helping in the art room, I noticed a young boy hunched over at his table, clearly upset and unwilling to join the group activity. When I approached him, he shared – while fighting back tears – that he so wants his mother to come and help some day at school. I happen to know his family and that he has a two-month-old sister at home these days, so, needless to say, Mom has been rather busy. But, in the eyes of a kindergartner, that doesn’t much console you, nor does it seem fair.
Another time, I ran into a mom stopping by the school over the lunch hour with her youngest daughter. She explained that her other daughter, a kindergartner as well, had been begging her for months to visit during the school day. A few moments later, I watched as her daughter held her mother’s hand and very, very proudly walked her to her lunch table as if she was, at that very moment, parading royalty through the cafeteria.
As a parent, these moments happen often in our lives, but we are simply so busy doing that we forget to stop and watch the miracle unfold in front of us. Our children need us for all of life’s necessities, yes, but we are also the ones they look up to and aspire toward. And while we should pause and enjoy these moments because they are fulfilling, we also should do so because these moments are fleeting.
It’s no surprise that by the time our children enter high school, probably even junior high, we as parents become a source of embarrassment for our once adoring children. By this time in their lives, they are more concerned with how they are perceived by others than anything else. Yes, they still love us, but far be it for them to show it at all, much less in a public place.
Yes, I remember those days vividly. One time, I even recall having my mother drop me off a full block from school because I didn’t want to be seen in her rust-clad, noisy, old car. Not one of my proudest moments as a teen.
No, I’m not looking forward to this public flogging of sorts as my sons grow older, but nonetheless, I am looking forward to the adventure that awaits me.
So tomorrow, take a moment to pause from the noise and chaos of life – getting bags packed, teeth brushed, hair combed, homework done, appetites fed and the other endless list of chores that we tend to each and every day – and simply watch and listen, truly listen. Today may be the day that your child gives you a memory that will last a lifetime and one that you will need to look back upon to get you through those years of seemingly thankless duty.