At Thanksgiving, Seeing World Through Child’s Eyes Sparks Gratitude
Published: November 20, 2003
I am heading over to school to pick up my goddaughter and her brother. Their mom, stranded with a flat tire, called to ask if I would get the children, and I was delighted to switch off the computer and head over.
My friend has called the school to explain the situation, and when I arrive, my goddaughter comes out first, toting a backpack almost as big as she is. The child listens carefully as I tell her about the tire, then gratefully surrenders her backpack and puts her little paw in mine. As we wait for her brother, I mention that our cat is eager to see her, and the little girl grins.
“Aunt Lorraine, do you understand cat language?” she asks, and I admit that I do.
When her brother arrives, I explain to the kids that we will be walking, rather than driving, since Uncle Jef has our car today. The children accept the news graciously, and we begin our journey, heading across Ponce de Leon, where I am startled suddenly by a
verse from Scripture that flashes through my mind: “A little child shall lead them.”
I have walked this route countless times, but the company of kids helps me see it for the first time. For one, we must stop to examine a cluster of frilly mushrooms, discuss a colony of tent caterpillars and remark over a snazzy beetle. Also, I am now carrying two heavy backpacks, thereby getting a precious glimpse into the sacrifices that their mom routinely makes out of love for these little ones.
As we walk, I realize Thanksgiving is not too far off, and I reflect that it is hard to be grateful for things if you don’t really notice them. Our yards teem with jaunty beetles, humble wildflowers and leaves as colorful as confetti, but if we just dash from house to car to job, we might just miss the wonder.
Daily life can seem so boring and humdrum, unless you are felled by a terrible virus and can’t get out of bed for a week. Then, when you do finally recover, you realize how grateful you are for the taste of freshly buttered toast and how marvelous it feels to head out into the world, clad in something besides your pajamas and robe.
My train of thoughts comes to a halt now, because we have arrived at a busy intersection and cars are raging by like high-speed bullets. The kids, who seem very much attuned to just how noisy and powerful cars are, shrink back in fear. I reassure them by mentioning that pressing the nearby button will make the traffic stop, and of course there ensues a mad dash to the button.
The cars grind to a halt, and the three of us proceed ever so cautiously across the street.
Another long block and then we are faced with the final hill, which looks more daunting today when seen through a child’s eyes. The kids are tired and slowing down, and I offer some words of encouragement for this final leg of the journey.
“Do you know how to flatten out a hill?” I ask, and they shake their heads. “You just walk up the hill, and it becomes flat.”
My goddaughter seems intrigued by this bit of information and continues slowly up the hill while her brother sprints ahead and then walks backwards to demonstrate how this makes the hill even easier to climb.
As soon as we arrive home, the children don’t dawdle around like adults, waiting for their hostess to invite them to sit down for a snack. Instead, they take their places at the table and wait for a treat, while I busy myself rummaging in the larder for cookies, grapes, cheese and milk.
While they eat, the children amuse themselves by looking out the front window where a hungry hummingbird is drinking his fill at the feeder. I mention that they are seeing something very special because many adults have never seen these tiny winged creatures.
But I fail to mention that many adults, me included, overlook so many special things in the world. We are in such a hurry that we don’t pause to admire beetles and we often forget how to flatten out hills.
Their mom arrives soon and thanks me profusely for helping her, although I am tempted to thank her. She has given me a lovely chance to see the world through smaller eyes by following the lead of her beloved little ones. She has also given me a chance to be grateful for the God-given wonders all around me.
Lorraine V. Murray is the author of “Why Me? Why Now?” and “Grace Notes.” She is a parishioner at St. Thomas More Church in Decatur. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.