Every pool chair was filled with lounging mothers and a few fathers. Yet none of them offered me the gift of a smile, sat down to enjoy my company, or trustingly took a ride on my legs. Startled, I realized I truly love children, not just mine, but most of the messy, unpredictable, authentic little carrier monkeys. Their sacrifices and exposure of self are so real. I thought about other gifts I have received from children.
- Notes, hidden where I will find them.
- Shoes lined neatly in my closet.
- Full outfits coordinated for my wearing pleasure and laid out on my bathroom floor.
- Pictures, pictures, pictures....pictures and more pictures.
- Jewelry, strung on yarn, fishing line or string.
- Dramatic shows and musicals put on for my enjoyment.
- Breakfast in bed.
- A portion of ALL their special treats
- Berries picked from non-edible bushes.
- Bouquets, bouquets. Wildflower, neighbor's flowers, my flowers...
- Hugs, sticky kisses, love signals, morning, afternoon and evening snuggles.
- Personal disclosure: who they like, when boys saw their underwear, when they make a mistake.
- Favorite walking sticks.
- "Found treasures" such as broken i-phones, 1 ear ring to hang on a necklace, or a mottled tennis ball.
- Crafty creations from clay, glue, pom poms, sticks, and google eyes.
- Mud pots made from the clay from our yard.
- Unadulterated joy at seeing me.
- My own belongings recycled back to me in gift form.
Childrens' gifts remind me of the widow's mite. They give their all. EVERYTHING that they have available to them, their time, their resources, their souls, their dignity, and their talents goes into showing appreciation and love. My adult self begrudgingly feels that I offer them my life. And I do. But I look at their list and wonder ... When was the last time I sat down to draw a friend or my child a picture of us holding hands? Would I share all my hidden Sees Nougat Bars? Are most adults as giving, trusting, open, and friendly as children? My experience says No.
Yet. . .
Children are us in our purer form. They are us before we get jaded, selfish, or fearful of rejection. Behind each adult is a small child that once offered someone a dandelion bouquet. I hope that adult took their offering with gratitude and humility. But if not, it's never to late to be the adult who paddles on by, smiles and says, "My name's Midodi. What's yours? Which cousin belongs to you?" When their child-self peeks out, I hope I take their the childlike offering of themselves with humility and gratitude.