Editor’s note: This week G-ma welcomes a guest writer. She’s our beloved sister, and we’ll call her G-aunt here. Enjoy G-aunt’s reflections on how deftly small children put us in our places and teach us what only they can.
He’s named for his dad, looks like his mom, and acts like — himself. My grandson operates his own way and on his own schedule. He wouldn’t crawl for a long time, then went along sideways on one hip. He wouldn’t walk for a long time, then stood up, started running and hasn’t stopped. He frisbeed his plate of holiday food across the room into the Christmas tree, announcing helpfully, “I frew my plate.” Yeah, thanks little dude, we noticed. We didn’t expect that, but we noticed.
His sister, age four, recently pedaled her new bike into a parked car and apparently was stung when her dad chuckled despite her upset. She told us he couldn’t understand her feelings “because he doesn’t live inside my body. He isn’t me.” Seriously? We know adults age forty-four who can’t grasp that concept.
When the father of these two (our son) was their age, he told us through tears that he was scared about “the sun burning out.” Attempting comfort, we assured him the sun will be around many more thousands of years. No dice. “But you know how grandma and grandpa had you, and you had me, and I’ll have kids and then they’ll have kids? SOMEBODY in our family,” he wailed, “will be here when the sun burns out!” Um, you might have a point there, kid.
Our daughter, their young aunt, was never one to shrink from reality, much less shrink from describing it. While visiting her kindergarten class many years ago, I gushed about how happy I was to be there, how proud I was to be her mother, how nice her classroom was. Her response? “Mom, your breath stinks.” Nothing like a cold hard truth to get you over yourself.
I often have wondered: who exactly ARE these small people? And who sent them here to confound us, inspire us, touch us and yank our feet back to the ground?
I do not know, but I do know this:
It’s a sacred privilege for their little souls to have been given into our keeping, if only for a short while.
It’s an honor to witness and enjoy their astonishing individuality, and to love and guide them as best we can in the time we are given.
And it’s a humbling thing that the little ones we seek to teach, teach us so much: To be ourselves. To understand that others can’t always sympathize. To think ahead. To keep it real.
Ah, the joy and the wonder of it— for us and all the world to be blessed with the wisdom of the children. May it ever be so.