My daughter cheered as she broke through the visual barrier of a “Magic Eye” pattern to see its hidden three-dimensional image. I could almost see the ship reflecting from her delighted little eyes myself. Andrea is six, and she found it splendidly gratifying to finally decipher the picture through the patterned design.
I received the book of frustrating little optical puzzles as a gift, and it was making its way through the children as they sat in our family room. Each one would sit silently engrossed in the pages until exclaiming with amusement that they had identified the puzzle’s answer. I enjoyed watching them; their satisfaction at seeing the images was downright touching.
The clock, however, soon bulldozed me into the frenetic supper hour and then later into the bedtime drill. My earlier sentiments were smothered, lost somewhere between dirty dishes, sibling rivalry and a stack of unsigned school papers.
The little people that decorate our lives are often overwhelmingly endearing. At other times our exhaustion and hurried lifestyle can reduce our ability to appreciate their worth. Life always inflicts hassles, interruptions, and complications.
So how do we focus on the beauty of our children’s child-like spirits, while giving necessary attention to the beast of busy-ness? Here are some suggestions for ways to bring your children’s value into focus.
Consult with their Maker
Our kind and loving Creator made our children in His image, and He knows the masterpieces into which they will develop. Their deepest hopes and potential may be hidden from us, but not from Him.
Ask Him to reveal your children’s significance to you. A personal journal is a good place to record your prayers and the lessons you learn. Make your requests simple. For example, ask God to show you one extra way to communicate your love for your child that day. Whether your child is being sociable or sullen, respectful or rude, with God’s help, you can be a positive road-sign for them at this stage of their life-long journey.
Notice Visual Reminders
Photographs, art work, awards, screen savers, and dandelion bouquets all can serve as visual reference points to the children in our home. Take time to occasionally stop to recognize these reminders and cherish them.
When folding laundry, take a moment to hold up the little pair of blue jeans and try to picture your son or daughter taller than you one day. Or plant a tree in their honour, and watch it grow over the years.
My front yard flowerbed holds a rusty old tricycle that belonged to my aunt about 60 years ago. It hides among the foliage and serves as a pleasant acclamation to all who approach our home: “Children live here”—they are valuable members of our family.
Pull On Their Heart Strings
Every child is powered by their feelings and their passions. They live their days uninhibited, using all their senses to experience the world around them. Over time, however, their inhibitions grow, and they begin to hide behind the patterns of limitations, expectations, performance, etiquette and peer pressure. Attempt to spark that passion.
Every birthday, look your children in the eye and say, “I am so glad you are a part of my life.” When driving in the car, ask them questions that make them dream big: “If all the resources you needed were available to you, what would you like to accomplish?” Or, “If you could travel to anywhere in the world, where would that be?” Ask them what goals they have in their life right now, and encourage them to take one small step this week to move towards one of those goals. You don’t need to advise, train, or guide their answers; just attempt to get them thinking.
Remember Your Youth
When I was a little girl, my life was very different than my children’s lives are today. The basic childhood elements, however, still exist: laughter, play, fear and potential.
Think about when you were little. Dusting off those memories may prove to be a helpful trigger for you when your son or daughter is experiencing life as a ten-year-old. As your children grow, remember what your life was like when you were their age, and attempt to relate to them from the eyes of your youth. I can assure you, it will often bring a more relevant perspective to their plight.
Honour Those Who Care For Them
Each day we entrust our little ones to people with hearts the size of Mount Everest. They teach, amuse, challenge, protect, comfort, encourage, and love our little people.
Teachers, babysitters, nannies, uncles, aunts, grandparents, friends. Honour them for the time and energy they give to your child. Take a moment to look one of them in the eye and thank them. They cater to a challenging population, and do a fantastic job of it.
Stop your bustling for a moment today and take a good look at your child. Don’t allow yourself to only observe their external appearance and behaviour, but look further, and go deeper. Open your “Magic Eyes” to see the value hidden in your children, and once that image is brought into focus, treasure the responsibility you have to nourish them.
(Written in 2003)