I have an amazing opportunity to observe parents and children everyday. I love people watching. I always have. Let me introduce you to some of the regulars I see at every ball field, dance class and school dismissal. The meanderer, a very rare breed, holds hands and winds his way through campus at the child’s pace. The talker is using every second “wisely” and is on the cell phone in the pick up lane. The scheduler is running down the list of what comes next and who does what when. The connector is talking to other parents and teachers above the head of the child. The sherpa is immediately accepting all bags, backpacks and worries to lighten the child’s load… to name just a few…certainly, there are many others.
A few weeks ago, I was on the phone with a friend when his teenage son walked through the door. It took me by surprise as I heard his eager yet loving greeting. I could hear the smile on his face. The joy was palpable even over the phone.
It gave me pause. How do I greet my girls when I first see them at the end of the school day?
I recently read a similar question posed by Toni Morrison in an interview with Oprah. Ms. Morrison asked when your children walk in the room “does your face light up? When my children used to walk in the room when they were little, I looked at them to see if they had buckled their trousers or if their hair was combed or if their socks were up. . . . You think your affection and your deep love is on display because you’re caring for them. It’s not. When they see you, they see the critical face. What’s wrong now?” Morrison advised, “Let your face speak what’s in your heart. When they walk in the room my face says I’m glad to see them. It’s just as small as that, you see?”
Clearly, my friend owns that lesson from the wisdom of Toni Morrison. I had not. Most of us have not…yet.
How easy it would be to make this one small change. To allow my face to light up when I see my children. How empowering for a child to know “I am valued” for just showing up – for just being me.
And what if we also did that for our colleagues, our clients, our friends and might I add, our spouses? How might we change the course of the world if we began to let people know we are happy to see them as soon as they walk into a room?
I may very well be getting ahead of myself. I will start small with my girls as Morrison suggested. My face will light up when I first see them in the morning and again after school.
So to all the parents …from the meanderers to the sherpas… let’s agree we will allow our face to light up when we first see our children. It will remind us what is truly in our heart. For even a fleeting moment we might be lucky enough to live without worry or regret and simply live in that moment of joy right now.