The story goes: There are wolves in the walls and when they appear one night, the family dashes out of the house, with the girl’s pig-puppet being left behind. Obviously, she wants to retrieve her toy, but her mother says, “We can get you a new one.”
This isn’t even the main plot of the story, but reading such logic that’s meant to be both an assurance and comfort, strikes me hard through my heart tonight.
Don’t I understand the value of a life in any old stuffed toy?
Don’t I comprehend the inner workings of unfeeling objects?
Yes, I do, and I do.
I remember when I would bid tearful farewells even to old stationery or random trash that I need to let go of. How about when I used to comfort every mouthful of my food by assuring them they will join their companions in my tummy – assuring them because I think they might be afraid of being eaten?
Childish musings, yes, but the sentiments behind such gestures were supremely real to me then.
And tonight, I wonder, how much of these sensitivities have I forgotten as I try to soothe my babies by easing them away from their troubles or, in teaching them about life as we know it, forgotten about the equally real aspects of life as we imagine it?
My babies are only three and one. And if I don’t remember this lesson now, how will I remember them when they are growing into their own person? Will I carelessly dismiss their ideals and beliefs, and will I trample on their naivety and innocence? And when they want to dream, will I neglect to look into what their visions may conjure?
Earlier tonight, I shared a journal post about a relationship I had that had never worked my entire life as I know it, and how I would never wish to be the one to bring such despair to my children.
But what if I already have?
What if in the midst of teaching them responsibility and accountability (for now, being punctual at school and developing good manners, etc), I miss out on the more important thing – that of building a relationship?
As it is, I think I have sometimes broken Matthew’s heart when I try to teach him about sharing toys. There are also times he looks at me playing with Emma in a way that makes me come undone. Or when Emma cries from a sibling brawl and I manage to only comfort her (when possible, I hug both, but it isn’t always possible due to circumstances, my emotions and reactions).
He looks at me in a way that makes me remember all sorts of what I felt as a young child. It is a lot to ask of a little mind, to understand why he can sometimes be overlooked.
I’m committing that even as I’m aware of it. What happens when I’m less aware in future and when daily stresses consume? How will I hurt my children?
Please Lord, tonight I pray: Let me always remember those times when every single one of my toy was alive; when the things that don’t matter to anyone else in the world were the only things worth anything at all; that little things count for more than what we hold dear; never to stop looking through a child’s eyes; and never to forget a promise I made to myself as a child to never be cynical when I grow up.
May I leave all that for the terrible time when I do grow up, and for now, to always, always live in wonder and awe of the tiniest to the grandest details of life. And may I never raise my children by sacrificing my relationship with them.