December 1997

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Wonder Through the Eyes of A Child

By Beth Weiss, Copyright 1997

The world looks so different through the eyes of a child, and perhaps one of the greatest joys of parenthood is recapturing the wonder and amazement ordinary things can bring.

Where I see an ordinary school bus, Jennica sees a marvel of the world.  “School bus!” she exclaims with glee.  (I think that only children really “exclaim with glee”, since grown-ups can’t do it without sounding phony; exclaiming with glee is one of the wonderful experiences that we get to relive as parents.)  And then “Two school bus!”   “Yes, Jennica,” I agree, “There are two school buses!”  And she’s excited and thrilled beyond words: she got to see two school buses this morning, and mama agreed that she saw them.  Her cup is full; what more could she ask for out of life?  And although she has forgotten, I remember the progression of exclamations over school buses: “Bus!” “Magic!” “Magic Bus”, “Magic School Bus!” and then, finally “School bus”, as she learned that not all school buses are Magic School Buses.  Her sighting of a school bus fills me with parental contentment indeed.

The day before we left for our Thanksgiving trip, I sat with Jordan at bedtime.  “We’re going to the farm tomorrow, right?” he asked, his little legs and arms kicking with excitement.  He was so thrilled to be going to visit his grandparents, he couldn’t possibly stay still.  It’s so easy for me to become blasé about an upcoming trip, or even stressed by the workload of necessary preparations, but how can one remain calm in the presence of such  an extreme display of excitement?

As most parents have learned, nothing brings out excitement quite like construction equipment.  Jennica loves excavators of all sizes: even ones that are really front end loaders: “Baby exvator!” she squeals.  “When I was a little girl, cement mixer trucks were always yellow or orange,” I told Jordan conversationally one day months ago.  Well, cement mixers around here are green, and Jordan is thrilled by that, and reminds me at every opportunity that cement mixers are green in Ohio.  “A child can continue discussing the color of a recently sighted cement mixer long after one’s own interest in the subject has waned.” I read that on the 'net long ago.  What I didn’t know then was that my own interest was not the same as my satisfaction at my child’s pleasure.

And what I really didn’t know was that I could become re-interested in those things.  That my children’s interest and pleasure would fuel my own.  That seeing a garishly decorated brightly-lit holiday display would make my heart pound, just because I get the joy of pointing it out to them and feeling their joyous reactions.

We’ve all heard the saying that everything worth knowing was learned in kindergarten.  That might apply to learning reactions as well.  There might be something to be said for living life on an even emotional keel, but living in the thrills of discovery and the depths of despair, as only a child can, certainly has a lot going for it as well.

And watching my children learn, discover, experiment, and invent has certainly inspired me to live each moment a little bit more fully, to respond more emotionally and completely than I did pre-kids.  I guess having children helped me recapture a bit of my own childhood again, and this time with (one hopes) a little more wisdom than I managed the first time around.

Perhaps that’s just how life circles around: one is a child, one grows up and leaves childish ways behind, one becomes a parent and learns how to enjoy being a child again.  And after regaining that feeling, it might be awfully hard to put it aside again, which is probably why teenagers think their parents are so strange.  And perhaps some day my children will become jaded and blasé and think that of me.

And when I’m a grandmother someday and can repeat the vicarious experiences with their children; my children, having become parents themselves, will come to understand how they taught me to appreciate the wonders of everyday life.

Have a wonderful holiday, and I hope all of you capture your own share of those many wonders.

Best wishes,


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