This afternoon I visited the local Sam’s club to get our family’s supplies. As I was checking out, I heard what I perceived as flustered parents scolding their little girl from wondering away. “Get back into that cart right this second” one parent shouted. There were a total of four children, two in the approximate ages of 4 and 6, one about 2 sitting in the infant insert of the shopping cart, and one being held on the waist of a frazzled mom who appeared to be expecting a fifth arrival. I took a deep breath at the site, as I counted my blessings for being beyond that stage in my life.
As I walked towards my vehicle, I noticed this family followed in the general direction behind me. I placed my goods into the car and proceeded to return the shopping cart to its designated collection stall. It was there that I encountered the two older children swinging onto the rails with joy and laughter completely oblivious of any danger. I am amazed to see how the perspective of an adult tends to create the illusion that harm will occur even in the most simple of settings. As a mother I understand and sympathize with this view, yet also see how we inhibit our children’s playful exploration of the world around us.
For no particular reason the words “Kayleb get into the car right this second before I smack you” were shouted. Kayleb, the oldest, however had made his way over to me; I was standing on the other side of the rail. I interjected in soft voice “children will be children” as I did not want to be taken for a critical “nosey neighbor”. Just before Kayleb walked away he looked at me. His precious crystal clear blue eyes hiding behind his tiny eyeglasses pierced through me as if they had reached my soul. I cupped my left hand around his cherub like freckled face as we smiled at each other. In that smile everything that needed to be said was conveyed.
I was reminded of Shawn Mullins song “Shimmer”
the essence of a child
he’s born to shimmer, he’s born to shine
he’s born to radiate
he’s born to live, he’s born to love
but we’ll teach him how to hate
As I drove away, my heart wept.