Sunday, August 23, 2009

Like a Little Child

I sat at the edge of the pool watching children leap, dip, and wallow in the shallow end. A small bikinied girl swished by. She smiled at me. I smiled back. She made a few turns then came over and conversationally mentioned, "My name's Kylee." I solemnly told her my name, said glad to meet you, and we shook hands. She asked if I was enjoying the pool, told me she liked my swim suit, and asked which little girl was my cousin. I pointed out Sunshine, then we introduced ourselves to another little girl eavesdropping on our conversation. By now we were firm friends so Kylee held onto my legs and I swung her around under water till my own jealous little one came to claim me.

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.
  1. Notes, hidden where I will find them.
  2. Shoes lined neatly in my closet.
  3. Full outfits coordinated for my wearing pleasure and laid out on my bathroom floor.
  4. Pictures, pictures, and more pictures.
  5. Jewelry, strung on yarn, fishing line or string.
  6. Dramatic shows and musicals put on for my enjoyment.
  7. Breakfast in bed.
  8. A portion of ALL their special treats
  9. Berries picked from non-edible bushes.
  10. Bouquets, bouquets. Wildflower, neighbor's flowers, my flowers...
  11. Hugs, sticky kisses, love signals, morning, afternoon and evening snuggles.
  12. Personal disclosure: who they like, when boys saw their underwear, when they make a mistake.
  13. Favorite walking sticks.
  14. "Found treasures" such as broken i-phones, 1 ear ring to hang on a necklace, or a mottled tennis ball.
  15. Crafty creations from clay, glue, pom poms, sticks, and google eyes.
  16. Mud pots made from the clay from our yard.
  17. Unadulterated joy at seeing me.
  18. My own belongings recycled back to me in gift form.
In the mail, I just received a box from Ladybug. It is for MOM with love. The jewelry box has a little clock and tinks out Fur Elise when the top drawer opens. Over the phone my bug excitedly revealed that it was SOOO expensive. It cost the entire $7 she had earned in her first two weeks working on the farm. The relative value of her gift is staggering. At my last job, eleven years ago, my two weeks earnings would be around $1,800. If I didn't know more money was coming, would I blow the whole wad on someone without saving myself enough for an Italian soda?

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.


  1. i am always waiting in anticipation to read your deep and provoking insight . . . thank you!

  2. Well, I commented on here last week and it didn't show up I guess...weird.
    I just really loved this post. So True, made me cry , lol.