What Kids Remember…

This morning when I went to the store to get milk, I had to wait in the parking lot while a father took pictures of his little daughter. She had her hands up in the air and he was directing her to move them closer, then further apart, then he started taking the pictures. I was standing behind him (because my car was right next to where they were standing) and caught on to what they were doing. Behind the little girl, about a half-mile away, was the capitol building. He was lining up the photo so it looked like she was holding up the dome of the capitol.

He finally noticed me and apologized but I just smiled and told him to finish. He showed me the pictures and they were really good. Then he showed his daughter and her face lit up like an angel in the presence of Jesus. This was a big deal…a bigger deal than I think the father and daughter realized. This was a good memory that the little girl would probably remember forever. It was just a small thing, but the potential for a life-long impact was huge.

When I was very little, my dad found the time to teach me a little about fly-fishing. Even though we were in the backyard and the closest water was in the birdbath in the front yard, he taught me how to tie a fly and then the best part, he taught me how to do a casting arc. I was clumsy at first but developed a rhythm all my own by the end of the day. Learning to fly fish was great, being with my dad was greater. It’s still one of my best memories.

My Brother-in-Law relates a story about his father when he was very young. They had an accident in the car and the engine began to smoke. His father pulled out each kid before the car burst into flames. What makes this story unique is that my Brother-in-Law saw a different side to his father, a man that could be so abusive to his wife and children that they remain scarred by it to this day. Still, that one good memory shines through.

When my wife was very little, she went with her family to see her grandpa at the hospital. He was dying, but they still wouldn’t allow children into the room. She was heartbroken because she loved her grandpa and he had always been kind to her. She had a new pair of shoes she really wanted him to see and apparently, he thought it was important to see them. Even though he was in the last stage of life, he still wanted to please his granddaughter. Since he was on the first floor, they solved the problem easily. They took my wife to his window where she could show off her new shoes and he could express joy at them with her. This memory is etched in my wife’s slate of good memories as a child, a brief list because most of the memories were bad.

A couple weekends ago, I was able to watch one of my sons teach his son how to fish. The warm feeling I got while witnessing this was wonderful. There was so much loving interaction between the two, it made me proud just to be able to see it. My grandson will grow up and this will be one of his good memories that will resurface when he has kids, or even if he doesn’t.

The things that kids remember can go on and on. As parents, we wish all the memories were good ones, but we can only do what we can do. I guess my point is, it’s the little things that might not mean much to us, but mean the world to a child. Sometimes, as a parent, we have to embarrass ourselves to make a child’s day.

When my youngest son was still in pre-school, he made me a tie out of construction paper. It was very colorful and had circles, triangles, squares, and crayon artwork all over it. It was about 2 feet long. He came home very excited about the gift for me. His excitement caused me to give him a childhood memory he still hasn’t forgotten. The next day, I wore his tie to work.

CO-WORKER: Um, nice tie…

ME: Thanks! My son made it for me.

This went on all day long. I even left it on for a board meeting I had to attend.

BOSS: Um, nice tie…

ME: Thanks! My son made it for me.

BOSS: Do you think this is the right place…

ME: Yes I do.

I’m glad I did it because when I came out of the meeting, my son was waiting for me. He always walked to my work from preschool with the son of a co-worker who was in sixth grade. He would come into the courthouse, drop his bag off in my office, then make his rounds. Every office had a cookie or a piece of candy to give him.

When he saw me come out of the meeting wearing his tie, his face lit up like, well, like an angel in the presence of Jesus. I realized it was all worth it just for that moment.

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