My oldest daughter came home with a simple glow stick bracelet from her teacher for Valentine’s Day, with the accompanying message, “You light up my life!” Tonight she wanted to activate it, but upon doing so, she found that only the tip came to life in a neon blue. She was of course disappointed and began to complain, when I took the little glow stick and said, “Follow me. I want to show you something.”
We walked back to her room and I said, “This little broken glow stick doesn’t look like much when all the lights are on, does it?”
“No,” she sighed.
“Well what if I turned out the lights and shut the door?” I turned out the light, and the little broken glow stick seemed instantly brighter. I shut the door, and in the complete blackness, the little broken glow stick looked like a beautiful beacon.
“Wow,” my daughter admitted, “why is it so different?”
“Because of contrast,” I replied, leaning on my photography knowledge. “The bigger the difference between the light and the dark, the brighter the light appears.”
I went on to make my moral point, “Good is like this tiny, ½ inch bit of light; you may not notice it, or think it makes much difference when there are many other “lights” around, but this broken bit stands out for all to see, when surrounded by darkness.”
“The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” John 1:5
My oldest daughter will be ten in a few months. She is smart, pretty, fun, and always brings me flowers back from her outings to the park with her grandpa.
There is something so very innocent and special about the homemade gifts of children. Whether it is an abstract drawing a child worked on all afternoon, a tiny bouquet of wilted flower petals and/or weeds, that are deposited into your best vase from dirty little hands, or something else, these gifts are tokens that a child has thought of you. And a sign that that child has thought enough of you to spend their time coloring or gathering flowers to bring back; childish gifts from their hearts.
Perhaps they are so dear to me, because I know that soon these little gifts will end. Just like glorious summer break will end so autumn can come, soon my little babies will be teenagers and then adults. They will probably buy me “nice” gifts with money from their jobs, and I will be grateful. Who knows if they will remember, or what they will think about their childish homemade gifts?
But as for me, I would much rather have the wilted flowers.
At lunch the other day, my nine-year old daughter suddenly became very serious and said, “Mommy? Is it true that if I step on a crack, you will have a heart attack?”
I laughed and told her that “back in my day” the jingle went, “Don’t step on a crack, or you’ll fall and break your back”. Then I launched into a lecture about how that was just a rhyme based on silly superstitions. She sighed, looked relived and then she said, “Good. Because I stepped on a crack yesterday, but you haven’t had a heart attack.”
I had a quick flash of perverse inspiration, but it passed, it passed.
We recently visited a local cemetery to decorate a family grave-site on Memorial Day. My nine-year-old daughter and seven-year-old son eventually went off with great-grandpa to help him walk his little terrier dog and explore the grounds. Apparently, the dog found a chipmunk, chased it, and killed it. They told me my daughter helped bury the chipmunk with leaves, and I thought no more of it. And then…
We had all piled into the van to head home for lunch and a nap. I passed back the emergency “anti-whine” box of crackers for the kids to have a snack, and after they had doled out the crackers and eaten, my daughter again began to recount the sad tale of the chipmunk in the cemetery. I was half-listening, straightening up the van as we twisted down the narrow, winding road out of the cemetery, when I heard, “And then I put my hand under it’s soft body to move it…”
“WHAT!!??” I am the daughter of a microbiologist as well as a mom and germophobic Millennial, so you can imagine my sudden horror and disgust. My sweet girl HAD JUST EATEN after touching a dead animal! Not only that, she had plunged her hand into the cracker box to pass the crackers to her siblings. I was appalled as I immediately began to pour large amounts of hand-sanitizer (anti-bacterial hand gel) over everything and everyone, making a scene and shouting about parasites and rabies.
My daughter naturally began to cry, and my husband calmed me down with reminders about my dad (the microbiologist) who used to shoot squirrels as a teen, “How many dead squirrels do you suppose he handled? And he’s still in good shape.” As we continued home I apologized to my daughter who whimpered, “I thought I was being kind.” I assured her it was a very sweet thing she did, but maybe next time she could use a pair of sticks or a shovel.
I then launched into a calm lecture about the importance of hand-washing, animal diseases, and parasites. Once I concluded, feeling satisfied that I had achieved my educational goal and my words had made a lasting, positive impression that would be passed down to my great, great, grandchildren, my 7-year-old son who had been listening to all this politely and quietly with big blue eyes, piped up from the backseat, “Well, at least I only touched it’s soft head.”