My good-old friend Carmen has this sweetness expressed in her eyes, her words, to kids, many kids, my kids.
Long ago interactions with my daughters make a lasting impression. Jackie said one day: “Carmen loves me.” How do you know? I ask. “Because of the way she greets me and calls me beautiful and sunshine.”
Kids have an uncanny ability to read people, to see beyond what meets the eye. And Carmen inspires me.
I love my nephews and niece. In ways that warm me to my core. Because my delight in them is not forced, it spring out of me. I’m not as expressive as I wish I was, like my friends. I’m not cute with babies. I am pretty leveled or some would say distant, though I’ve improved, learning from my more expressive and genuine friends.
Plus, loving my daughters cured me of the embarrassment of acting ridiculous for the sake of love and kindness.
Occasionally, as I express genuine delight in other kids, my daughters ask me to be sure: “you love us the most, right?” …“Because we are your daughters”.
This notion sparked the conversation about parenting and the love of parents which is more complex.
Good parents correct their children, and often behind closed doors.
I never wished for other parents, but I felt mine were very strict compared to most other parents. Little do kids know. The Sunday parents of our friends are also tired, frustrated, afraid and sometimes angry. But they don’t share it with strangers.
My daughters have had some extreme parenting experiences, from neglect or abuse to very soft care, mainly because it was under the microscope and temporary.
As we came into the picture we had to find our balance and direction, to stay the course long term, to build a strong foundation for discipline. From love and trust and nurturing connection, to leadership and courage and clarity. I’m ok not being the popular parent, and yet I find I am. We both are in different ways.
I second-guess myself. Though I try to shake off my uncertainty, and much like a blind person, use my instinct to navigate when things get blurry.
I look at my niece with delight, and more than the words I say, though my actions and words do matter, I believe she feels our love, my love. The unspoken feelings matter. Kids feel our courage and love as much as they hear it. I find I feel the same delight in my 4 year old nephew Marc. This age is challenging for parents but sweet for grandparents, aunts and uncles.
I hope we have the wisdom to truly see the children around us, to not rush past them. To affirm them, inspire them, encourage them, love them. Oh, the taste of acknowledgement, acceptance, purity of heart. That they feel and we can feel too. It is our privileged to be around kids. And we can all learn from each other.