Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Eyes of a Child

Saturday morning. Another string of beautiful summer days. Chloe and I sat outside. I put her right on the grass so she could get used to the way it feels. The wind swayed the top of the pine tree that borders the neighbor's yard back and forth, back and forth. Chloe looked at it in amazement; looked up at a puffy cloud above that drifted ever-so-slowly.

"That's a cloud," I said in my teacher/mommy voice, marveling, as I always do, at what life must be like to see everything new. Every time the wind sways the trees; every reflection and light and shadow, gives her pause.

I wonder how sweet life would be, to see that way.

I think about the paradox, the way children simultaneously make us speed up and slow down. The toddler that dawdles over every leaf and crack in the sidewalk can infuriate us or cause us to take that pudgy, sticky hand and meander. The littlest ones send us on a quest to rush through shopping before they're hungry or get home quickly because they need their nap or wolf down the restaurant meal before they get bored. Life now with three (including Chloe's extra appointments for her hip and now her flat little head) mean my old-fashioned calendar is flooded with ink. There's always somewhere to go.

Yet little ones remind us there's always time to stop...to see...to drink in this world the way they do.

The other evening after Chloe was asleep the big kids and I spread out a blanket on the lawn and watched it get dark while reading bedtime stories. This is something we'd never done, and would you believe I didn't even think of the idea? I saw it on a blog. Someone's blog. How could I have missed it?

How could I have forgotten some of my favorite childhood moments? Winter walks with my dad over frozen streams to the old "Indian caves," where we'd roast hot dogs over a little campfire. Skipping rocks on Flying Pond. The nights we'd be outside just looking at the stars, and my dad would remind me that we were looking up at history, that the light from those stars had taken so long to reach us that they might not even be there anymore.

Our stars here are muted by the lights of Hartford, by the megalopolis that is the east coast. But they are there. And although Anna started to freak at the sight of swooping bats and Ethan kept thinking the sound of planes soaring low to land at nearby Bradley airport was thunder, for a few moments, there was quiet; there was still. And then someone saw the first star appear. Then another. I noticed my kiddos saw them first, and felt a little sad at my aging eyes. But just for a moment. Then I told them the story of the stars' light, just like my dad in another long-ago backyard. I remembered that we can always, always see like a child. If we want to.

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