What quality would we Grandmothers most ardently wish for you parents of young children in this final, bustling season of the year?
Well OK, you didn’t ask, but we’re going to tell you anyway. Not patience, not insight, not mediation skills, not tolerance for mud and messes, not the ability to survive your busy day on three hours of sleep, not immunity to childhood illnesses, but delight. Delight in your children.
At this time of year you’ve doubtless had many opportunities to observe Scrooge as he emerges, thrilled to be alive after his visits from the three ghosts. Remember how he gleefully greets the boy whom he sends to get the turkey for the Cratchit family? “An intelligent boy! A remarkable boy!” he says. “What a delightful boy! It’s a pleasure to talk to him.” When, in fact, the boy hasn’t done a thing remarkable.
This is the kind of delight we would like you to be finding in your children during this holiday season and into the New Year.
Easy to dismiss that with a Bah, humbug, or some 21st-century expression that comes more quickly to mind, we’ll grant you. But hear us out.
Yes, they wear you out, both physically and mentally. Their needs are constant and usually come at inconvenient times. They whine, they fight, they demand, they spill their red drinks on your white carpet. But the fact that they exist, these miniature people, and grow and change so fast and miraculously, is truly delightful.
Look at how much they learn in a month, let alone a year. Wasn’t he struggling to stand up only a few months ago, and now he can run? Wasn’t she speaking in one-word sentences last spring, and now she talks in paragraphs? Scrooge was right: It’s altogether remarkable.
If you’re having trouble working up some delight in the kid who just gave himself a training-scissors haircut the day before his preschool photo, picture yourself leaning over his bed when he’s asleep and the little twinge you get in the area of the heart as you contemplate how beautiful he is, how infinitely precious.
Remember – and maybe you don’t have to go so far back in history for such a memory, this being the season – how teary you got when she and her classmates stood up at the daycare holiday party and sang Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer? Most of the rest of the kids were standing there scratching their behinds or singing off-key, but your daughter was singing right on pitch, every word, louder than all the others. Or maybe your kid was one of those doing the scratching, but wasn’t she absolutely adorable?
And think of the cute things he’s said, the antics that you’ve described to your co-workers or called up your mom on the phone to share. What about when you asked him to pick up his toys and he said, “But I just can’t want to do that right now!”
Remember the time that you were so sick you couldn’t get out of bed, but somehow she climbed up on the kitchen counter without breaking her neck, got out the peanut butter and jelly, and made you a sandwich?
Remember how delightful the way he looks at the world because to him it’s fresh and new, and how unexpected but understandable the way he interprets what we say because he finds our adult vocabulary puzzling. Ten years ago, one of the Grandmothers’ grandsons, when told that Aunt Irene’s body was in the closed casket at her funeral, asked, after a long pause, “But where’s her head?” and we’re still laughing about it.
You have your own stories to tell, your own cute things your children have said to share. Please send them to us. And this holiday season and beyond, try to look at your children through Scrooge’s eyes – the transformed Scrooge, that is.
Your child is without doubt the most remarkable, delightful creature on Earth. Even when he’s just standing there, plastic scissors in hand, hair sticking up in six directions.