Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Upon Further Inspection . . .

On beautiful days, it's not uncommon for teachers to take their children on a walk. To keep everyone grouped safely together, each child holds onto a tag on a long rope. You can't help but smile when you see them.  It stops traffic.  Driving yesterday, I glanced out the window and saw the kids-on-a-rope passing by, pointing out squirrels and toddling along at a glacial pace, and I nearly forgot to drive  just to soak in the scene.

You know, when you're with your children all the time, it's easy to lose that warm and fuzzy sensation. As precious as they are, kids can get under your skin and tap into reserves of frustration or anger that you didn't know (and wish you weren't) capable of feeling. Kids bring out the best in you, and they also can reveal the worst.

A few weeks ago while driving, I saw a pair of kid's shoes sitting on a long retaining wall, perfectly positioned as if they were waiting for their owner to come back and claim them. 

Now, I see kid's shoes all the time. I trip on piles of them when I enter and exit my front door every day.  But seeing the shoes in an unexpected place was refreshing, just like seeing the kids-on-a-rope in a setting where children are generally absent.

It's the fresh look that makes all the difference. Those teachers walking along with the children-on-the-rope just might have been counting down the hours until they clocked-out because the kids were acting up. Those intriguing shoes might have belonged to a child who disobeyed his parent's instructions to put them on his feet. But to me, they were fresh.

When my children were first born, I couldn't look at them enough.  I'd study them. Everything about them -- their satiny, wrinkly skin, their never-been-walked-upon feet, their inability to hold up their heads, their yawns, their noises -- captivated me. Chase is barely still a baby, and I practically want to swallow him whole, drink him in, and preserve his beautiful babyness.

Even during the most frustrating days, what if I inspected my children like I did when I first met them?  I'd examine those small dimples that appear on The Boy's cheeks when he smiles his widest grins.  I'd notice the sunkissed highlights in The Girl's hair.  I'd marvel at the lovely color The Girl's eyes turned out to be. I'd stand at the crib long after The Boy had fallen asleep, marveling over his perfect profile, the pout of his lips, and how he sleeps with his knees tucked underneath him ever-so-slightly so that his bottom points toward the sky.

Maybe I'll make one of those ropes and occasionally ask my children to parade around the house. It will be a reminder to observe them from a distance so I can better see them for who they are when they're up close.

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