My soon-to-be three-year-old and I were being silly together. It happens a good bit. I’m not sure if he gets it from me or I get it from him; or maybe we’re just simply a couple of silly guys kicking around together. Who knows?
Any which way, there we were…silliness abound.
This kid’s smile is contagious. It’s massive, and full, and genuine. His sizable eyes get all but swallowed by his cheeks at its full power. I can’t help but smile back. No one could.
His laughter is among the most gratifying sounds around, if not in fact the most. Its uniquely joyful timbre saturates a space, resonates in seemingly endless perpetuity, and catalyzes uncontrollable laughter in response.
When this kid is functioning at all silly cylinders it’s like attack of the body snatching giggle monster from outer space; an undeniable force; powerful, prodigious, and healing.
My powers of perception at full steam, I blurted out, “You’re pretty silly,” and then in fit of vanity (and a moment of pride) I followed up with, “Just like you’re daddy.”
My self-absorbed and ridiculous claim stopped him in his tracks. His laughter screeched to a sudden and jarring close, his wide open, gigantic, full-faced smile crumpled into a tiny little pursed line, his brow furrowed, and then his stout little pointer finger aimed itself directly at my face in preparation for the dressing-down he was about to deliver, “I’m not just like you, “ he insisted, “my hair is lellow!”
“Lellow, indeed,” I agreed with deep sigh. Then I tickled him back into a silly, smiling, laughing fit…and on we went.
We can’t want particulars for our children bad enough for those particulars to become their realities, and we certainly can’t mistake our children for ourselves. No matter how apple and tree-ish they seem, their journeys are each undeniably, uniquely distinct from ours. Their needs, their wants, their world-views, are each just that much different that it makes a difference.
Sometimes I wonder why my kids seek indulgence in ways that I don’t understand and gratification in corners that I might have never even found. Maybe it’s because they are not me, and for that matter, thankfully so.
I so profoundly hope that my kids are happy in their endeavors.
As parents and educators we might serve our kids best when our minds and hearts are fully open any possibilities they consider along the way.
My default is to envision relatively traditional pathways for my kids; do well in school, go to collage, get a job, meet a spouse, have a family, paint a fence, mow a lawn, jump in leaves, shovel snow, walk some dogs, etc. These are things that make me happy.
Turns out, my kids are considerable more complex and than I am, one of them even has distinctly lellow hair. If the lellow-haired one is distinct enough from his dad that he doesn’t even seek the simple path I really should support and celebrate that.
Jim Henson wanted to make puppets. Dr. Suess wanted to draw pictures and tell stories. Neil Armstrong wanted to touch the moon. Their dad’s might have been worried for a minute. It all worked out in the end.
We might simply need to listen, learn, guide, support, celebrate, and let kids be anything and everything that works best for them on the way to and through whatever challenging and/or joyful midpoints and ends they head toward.
Colin Hay said (sang), “on a clear day I can see a very long way.” Let’s gift our kids with as much clarity as we can by keeping our hearts and minds open to any possibilities they can imagine, seemingly sensible or glaringly wild.
Let’s let their visions guide. After all, while we do feel the rush in ways they can’t understand (yet), it will be their repeated rise and fall along their way, and not ours.
Even if the lellow-haired one decides to peruse a career as a body snatching giggle monster from outer space, I really should smile. It could be a tremendous contribution to humanity, and after all, he does seem to have a knack.
In it together for the kids.
Live. Love. Listen. Learn. Lead. Thanks.