I’ve heard kids spell love——-T–I–M–E.
Every day in backyards, schools, and playgrounds the words “Look!” “Watch this!” bounce through the air carrying the excitement kids get when they MUST have a witness to watch them succeed — just one set of eyes to see them weave through the monkey bars, jump off the swing, do their first back walk over, hurtle over anything or make the shot.
In fifth grade, I was unstoppable on the monkey bars. My signature move was the “cherry drop”. It was risky and exhilarating, and I did it nearly a zillion times. Here’s how it works. Pull yourself up to the bar. Sit and balance on the top, point your hands straight out in front of you, fall backward quickly, hook your knees to the bar, flip your body over, and land in front of the bar in the soft, warm New Mexico dirt (at my elementary school anyway). That’s a cherry drop.
Fast forward to today and simply stepping off a curb feels like Everest with my old ankles, so the thought of purposely falling backward while on a small metal bar and landing in the dirt is completely terrifying. Although – when you’re a kid, the feeling of landing such a feat – sticks with you forever.
But what left an imprint on my 10-year-old heart more than anything else, was having someone there to watch me land – or not land – the flip. Someone who listened when I said, “Look!!” …someone who swiveled around caught my eye and took TIME to be there…someone who was awed that I even tried.
Isn’t that how childhood and — well — life works? Someone stops, wedges out of a moment of their day, and listens to you, believes you can, or helps you get back up and try again.
Maybe it’s a parent, who shows up locked and loaded with love, support, optimism, and tons of faith that we can do IT.
Whatever IT is…
They believe we can…then we believe and suddenly – little tiny seeds like on a dandelion float through the air planting confidence, a connection, and a conversation for later. I recently read there is an increase in the number of children needing speech therapy due to the lack of interaction between the child and the parent. Imagine that, this one free commodity we have called time slips away and our focus bends toward money, status, and stuff rather than being truly and sincerely present for our kids and families.
What I learned:
I can still remember when the kids would play out back all day and if my attention was scarce, inevitably I would turn my head and see my son’s eyes peering at me through the window…waiting. If I missed the shot, the goal, the jump, or the flip, there was always an instant replay, either spoken or delivered in slow motion. Thankfully, like in most sports today, the replay counts for inattentive parents.
I know how easy it is to get steamrolled by the day-to-day craziness of life – but there is nothing as priceless as simply watching your child play or better yet, tossing the football or slamming the Hungry Hungry Hippo yourself. Our kids are older, but there are still insane bike jumps to watch, swim times to marvel at, amazing trick shots to video, and brave back flips I’m summoned to watch.
It might be a three-point shot or a monkey bar miracle but some kid somewhere is pining for their moment to be seen.
So right now. Just stop. Stop swiping and texting, streaming or tweeting, cooking or cleaning. Just stop and watch him take the shot. Watch the look on his face when he does it. Watch him keep trying when he doesn’t. Watch now because too soon he’ll stop asking.
My apologies for the late post on this tax day.
Thanks for joining me,