Getting Rounded by Kids
Lucy Lopez


People get bored so they have a kid.
Besides, parents don’t know everything!

Sean, 7

I was in the middle of coffee with a business associate.  We had been discussing a production deadline.  It was all hard, fast, input-output type information exchange.  He was sharp and to the point, outlining very precisely what was required, when and how.  The economy of words on both sides was typical of the nature of discussions we have.  As I attempted to make some notes, I pushed aside my now empty cup with its little teddy bear chocolate biscuit on the side of the saucer.

“May I have that?” Grant asked, his fingers already holding the teddy.  I smiled, grateful for the break, knowing it would not last long, then teased, “Oh, I was going to save that for my daughter”.  Laughing, and by now having consumed the poor teddy, he said, “What she doesn’t know, she won’t miss”.  His voice had softened a little.  “ My little boy never lets me have the teddies either,” he continued.  We didn’t return to talking shop for another fifteen minutes.

I couldn’t help observing, and not for the first time either, how children really do impact upon us, sometimes in ways so subtle that we hardly notice.  Talking about our children revealed an aspect of Grant’s and my personalities that we don’t often consciously project.  

We seem softer and more ‘rounded’, as if the rough edges of our personalities that we’ve tried for so long to smoothen out, have finally been polished off by our offspring.  Where we’ve been hard and uncompromising, we’re now, sometimes despite ourselves, melting to the words “pleeeeeeeease mummy”.

Where we’ve been unforgiving and punitive, we’re now learning to listen and understand and accept the shortcomings of our fellow human beings.  Where we’ve been rigid about times and schedules, we’re now trained to be more flexible about delays arising from such urgencies as “I need to go!”

Children are some of the most precious gifts that any human could possibly receive.  And whilst we may bask in the glory of their many achievements, from taking their first step to graduating from college, the nature of their gift is clearly much more intricate and pervasive than most of us are aware of.  The fact that they do shape us, as much as we do them, is a gift that unfolds from the gift of their physical form and presence.  They are some of the best teachers we will ever have in our lives!

I was never known for my patience, I freely admit, but my kids have taught me patience in a big way, and I am grateful to them for it!  I haven’t been completely reconditioned, but I know I’m a good way there.

A friend once told me that as a child, she had never been hugged or kissed by her parents.  With her own kids, however, I have observed countless incidents of kissing and hugging.  What a truly wonderful thing to have learnt, and where her parents might have failed to teach, her children certainly haven’t.

I remember one evening coming home from work feeling utterly drained.  I had brutal deadlines to meet and little energy to draw on.  My son, who had been relating a funny incident from school, soon realized that he hadn’t quite captured my attention when my only response to the punch line was a glazed expression.  He stopped abruptly, took both my hands in his, led me to the bean bag, sat me down, and planted a balm of a kiss on my forehead that would have lasted at least a minute and a half.  When he finally withdrew his lips, he said:  "Now mum, that was a healing kiss.  Are you feeling better?"  Was I ever!  We have never forgotten that little invention of his, and frequently employ it when things get a little frantic and spirits a bit frail.  And I have my son, who was six at the time, to thank!

Children exert their influence in other ways too.  Don’t for one moment think that only parents ever employ reverse psychology to influence their children’s’ behavior.  Ever notice how you make an extra effort to go shopping with your child when she or he tells you in the most understanding, almost sympathetic voice, that she or he knows you don’t really have time?  Don’t blame them for being great learners!

Every now and again, when I do remember to do it, I tell my children of the ways they inspire me and how I believe I have been shaped by them (physically, too, I might add, but let's not go there!).  Sometimes, they respond with incredulity, but more and more they are taking me seriously and respond with quiet pride.  These are moments I treasure, and would hope become part of the legacy of my spirit that will remain with them long after I have completely expended the energy of my physical state.

Now that I think of it, I wonder what a Book of Thanks to our children would contain?  I think I might like to start one today. . . talk to you later!

© Lucy Lopez.


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