I’ve always believed that in the greater scheme of things big brother arrived into this world wide eyed and ready to learn. My best friend said yesterday that he’s like a kid from the 1950’s, just without the suspenders. Wholesome, innocent, thoughtful, and doe eyed from the start.
And as every action has an equal and opposite reaction, little brother burst onto the scene a teacher. As if the first six days he spent in Neonatal Intensive Care weren’t enough of a lesson, the kid has continued to spread sermons of free spirit mostly through unsolicited bursts of affection, but also by scaling the kitchen island while my back is turned for all of 15 seconds. Thanks, son. Lesson learned.
While these are the characters that inhabit my home most days, there are those moments when I am reminded that my children are human beings. Growing, evolving, surprising little creatures with journeys all their own. Enter most recent example.
Last weekend my husband and I took the boys out for lunch, and ran smack into none other than Santa and his mall staff along the way. Thanks to the rain the line was short, so I decided to partake in that odd tradition of trusting some bearded stranger to hold my dear child on his lap for a picture. I usually avoid these encounters like the plague, but for some reason this year could not resist the promise of a holiday photo op.
Plus, I was desperate to find out what on earth the boys expected Santa to bring them this Christmas. So I asked. And little brother, without any hesitation, declared that he was going to ask Santa for a bear, a blue bear. OK. Not too difficult. Got it.
I turned to big brother and repeated the question. And the bright eyed four year old said to me, “I don’t want to ask Santa for anything, mommy. I want to be surprised.”
Really? Really??? I envisioned myself trudging through the toy store attempting to guess that secret hidden desire of my son’s, to preserve the myth of Santa’s omniscience for just one – more – year.
Then I snapped out of it. And began to cry.
This little guy, in all of his innocence, has so much to teach me. His mom. The one responsible for filling his world with wisdom.
Here we are in the midst of holiday madness, encouraged by the world at large to spend and buy, buy and spend, which I do diligently with focus year after year. Yet here is a four year old who, when presented with the age old question, “What do you want for Christmas?”, declares his belief in the unknown, the unpredictable, the miraculous. When I was expecting him to ask for a Wii.
So I’m reminded, through the eyes of my tiny pupil turned teacher, the magical possibility of childhood. The magic that we all are really striving to recreate this time of year. It’s rendered me speechless. And I find it’a good thing. Because within this silence I’ve found ample space to listen to the wisdom of my little one. And this year he’s telling me to suspend my disbelief and let the magic take over. Lesson learned, kiddo. Lesson learned.