On yesterday, we entertained the our grandchildren from Douglas’ daughter. It was an opportunity to get together for food and laughter, as they were with their father’s family for Thanksgiving in another state.
It was also the birthday for the oldest child, a boy, who turned 12! I am still stunned by how fast they grow up. As my birthday was a week ago, I didn’t really expect any gifts, but Douglas has a gift-giving family, which is very different from my own.
So, I wasn’t prepared for the lovely cards I received from the grandchildren who call me Nana Regina. The one that nearly caused my heart to stop was from the only girl, and it reads:Dear Nana Regina, You are so kind and you are so so sooo sweet. I love you. Happy Birth-Day.”
She is age 6, and I like being in her presence. She is as tough as her older brother and a great carer for her younger brother. When we were moving into the new house, she helped me arrange the kitchen cabinets, making some great suggestions on where things should go.
I think the reason the card caught me unawares and brought tears to my eyes is that so often we ponder if we are touching the hearts of the people around us in a meaningful way. Do we leave a part of ourselves with them?
Do they actually “see” us, our heart and our soul? It was the intensity of her feelings that meant a lot to me, “so so sooo sweet,” for it said to everyone who reads the card, and particularly to me, that she and I have touched on a soul level.
I learned early in my life that children are not fooled by pretense, and I have said to students and congregants alike that if a child dislikes a person, you had best listen to them. Children tend to see through charm to the underlying deception in fake smiles.
I think that sometimes adults see the deception but loneliness and the need for the presence and approval of others start to blind us to people. At the least, we choose to ignore bad feelings about someone and the pain they inflict on us and others, if it fulfills a desperate desire. Then, it takes having our hearts broken and our illusions burst for us to once again look out at the world with “knowing eyes,” praying to God for a discerning spirit.
The words in that card on yesterday brought me much joy, not because I think that I am the best thing since cornbread. In fact, it is just the opposite! Those heart-tugging words touched my sense of self and made me feel of value and worth.
Although I have spent years reminding myself that I am a diamond, so that I have zero tolerance for violence against me, whether spoken or physical, there are days when I, like so many other people, particularly woman and girls, wonder if what I believe about myself is true. I try to treat people the way I want to be treated, including the littlest people.
Children deserve respect, just as adults do, especially when they have earned it. When I was a child, it was believed that children should be seen and not heard. But, if you want to hear real honesty that has no agenda attached, talk to children. As Mr. Art Linkletter used to say, “Kids say the darndest things!”
I would add, “Kids tell it like it is, whether we want to hear it or not!” You can trust them to cut through all the crap! We need more of that today!