Monday, July 13, 2009

Parental Observations

Yesterday I had the pleasure of being an on-looker as two different parents made their children’s universe a very happy place to be. Let me preface this post by saying that earlier in the week I had sat down on the couch to catch up on an Oprah episode discussing child neglect. Needless to say, there wasn’t a dry eye in the room (granted, I was the only one in the room but I swear I saw Piggy shed a tear or 2 as well). I sat on my cushy couch, with my drink and snack in hand and watched story after story of children who are raised without food, without bathing, without any love from a single human being, and sometimes even raised in cages. I was heart broken and enraged. How can you do that to an animal let alone your own child?!

As I stood in church yesterday, and as I joined in with 1,000 other people as we sang and worshiped together, I noticed a family of 3 two rows ahead who would allow me a glimpse into the exact opposite upbringing that I witnessed via Oprah. Both parents, most likely in their early 30’s, literally “fought” over who would get to hold their child during each song. I say fought, but I mean it in the sweetest sense you can imagine. They both just wanted to be in that moment, hearts singing and arms holding the one they loved more than life. As we sang “Happy Day” the young mom danced with her toddler and held him up as if he were the only person on the planet. Love was in the air, along with the sweet boy with the red curls.

Later on in the day, over grilled hot dogs and bluegrass music, I had the pleasure of watching a father dance with his precious daughter in front a stage and crowd. Oblivious to the onlookers, this child was about 6 years old, danced like she knew what she was doing with graceful arms and smile plastered on her face, and was probably one of the cutest kids I’ve ever seen. What caught my eye more than her smile was the genuine look of love on her daddy’s face. You could tell that he felt like the lucky one. As the mom snapped pictures and the rest of us watched in adoration, I knew that I was privy to a family memory that would probably last a very long time.

As one of my dear friends watched beside me, she leaned over and said “I’d give a million dollars to have a memory like that with my dad.” Again, my heart broke as I was reminded of what much of her childhood was like and again I felt bad that she’d never feel a memory like that for herself. At the same time my heart grew for the little girl dancing with her dad who would have that memory.

As adults, you never know what memories your children will hold on to, but I do know that I hope to equip my children with plenty of loving ones for them to choose from someday. No child should ever grow up willing to pay for a happy memory.

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