Monday, May 04, 2009

A Child’s Perspective

I was out trying to catch up on my spring yard work and attempting to cross a few things off my to-do list when I took a moment to pause for no apparent reason. As I looked around, aside from the activity of the kids, it was a very peaceful moment and I took the time to gauge how far along I was on my list. My thoughts were suddenly broken by Daniel, James and Rebecca yelling “Come here Daddy, quick there is something wrong”!!. My experience (to date) as a parent allowed me to immediately assess, by their tone, that it was not life threatening. But I was about to be proven wrong once again. As I approached them I was hearing the same story from all three of them simultaneously with the same level of desperation in their voices but didn’t understand what the fuss was about. They were pointing to the ground and were saying “look, Daddy he is hurt, someone stepped on him”. I looked down and I couldn’t see anything except a couple of ant hills and clover. But as I was instructed to move closer and closer I slowly realized what the dilemma was. There was an ant that wasn’t moving very well and was separated from the others. The kids were looking to me to help the little ant to get better and I felt powerless and wasn’t sure how to respond. As I inched even closer to the ant hill the small world slowly dominated my range of vision as I watched the hundreds of ants going in and out of the ant hill with great haste and determination, although their task at hand was not obvious to me. They seemed unfazed by our dominant presence hovering above them. With an occasional concerned glance to the injured ant I listened intently to Daniels story of how the ant was stepped on by an angry wolf and James was insistent that a rock must have fallen on its foot and Rebecca thought the ant slipped, fell down and was crying for its mother. Although they differed on the cause they all agreed that we needed to do something to help the ant. As much as I wanted to make things better I tried to explain that there was not much that we can do and by touching the ant we may do more harm to him (her). “Well if Daddy cant do anything maybe the ants family will take him to the doctors.”

As we were discussing the problem we were interrupted when we all saw 3 ants emerged from the ant hill, who were curiously out of step from the others, and appeared to assess the ants problem. They then proceeded to slowly pick up the injured ant and took it back into the hole. There were several seconds of silence and then Daniel, James and Rebecca all started talking a mile a minute… “The ant is going to be okay!!!.... The ant was saved by his brothers and sister….. No Rebecca! they were his parents and a neighbor, one of the ants came from next door to help carry him”…. “Dad, James said that they are going to feed the ant soup in bed, is that true?”… “Do ants like ice cream?”. Each of them were relieved and excited, at the same time, that all was good in their world again. They spoke of this ant on and off for the rest of the day as sort of evidence or reassurance that there is always someone willing to help.

Children are such survivors.. This seemingly inherent faith that kids have that serves as the underpinning to support their trust that everything will somehow work out, their trust that family will always rally, triumph and can overcome any obstacle just continues to amaze me no matter how many times it is played out in their young lives.

As I began to refocus on the larger world of my yard work I felt uplifted and recalibrated by their spirit and optimism. I was also reminded that there is so much going on around us, that we don’t usually see unless we take the time to get up close. This sometimes takes a younger person with a keen eye for detail and an unharnessed compassion for all living things and one who isn’t distracted by a day measured merely by a series of tasks. Raising children can be a difficult and sometimes thankless job but these hidden gems more than make up for it and inspire me to preserve them here.

Found blooming on May 1st

Daniels painting.

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