Thursday, June 18, 2009

Kid's Eye View - Wonder

This is something that probably every parent learns from their child. It seems like somewhere along the road to adulthood our ability to stop and simply enjoy the amazing features of God's creation diminishes. Bringing a child into the world gives us a fresh set of eyes when we take the time to pay attention to what they are amazed by. There have been several examples of this in our family lately, but a few were really highlighted in my mind as I prepared this post.

Our daughter has recently gained an avid interest in observing insects. With the warmer weather she began to ask my husband to help her catch bugs and she moved on to catching them on her own. One bug that they caught together was especially interesting. It is pictured here. One thing that made it so interesting was that my husband didn't know what it was and had to look it up on-line. This might not seem so strange, but my husband has always liked insects and knows a great deal about them. He briefly considered a career as an entomologist. Needless to say he is truly happy to share this interest with our daughter, but it was fun to see her interest actually teach him something, too. Her newfound fascination actually expanded something that he already enjoys. It is, by the way, called a snake fly.

A similar, yet subtly different, experience happened during a recent road trip. We had been in the car far too long that day, and were growing weary of the whole experience when we drove into a rain storm fairly late in the evening...perfect rainbow conditions. We drew our daughter's attention to the rainbow and suddenly the attitude in the vehicle changed as she exulted over each arc of color she saw. She was counting them and trying to tell the babies about them, excitedly telling us what she saw. Again, I always enjoy rainbows - they remind me of God's promise to Noah, and the beautiful colors make the rain seem worth enduring, yet somehow sharing my daughter's joy made the experience fresh and new. I found myself looking harder to see how much of the arc was really visible, and rejoicing when the colors were vividly ending on the road in front of us. Without her perspective it might have been just another rainbow.

Lastly, a few months ago my daughter said something that at first just seemed silly, but when I took the time to listen I realized was quite profound. Something my busily speeding "normative" brain has probably never considered. It was bath time and as I poured water over her hair to rinse out the shampoo she said, "Mom, water is always wet." I thought to myself, "Well of course water's always wet," but to her I said, "What do you mean?" because I've learned that I sometimes need to probe a little deeper to understand what she is trying to express due to her language challenges. She replied, "Clothes are sometimes wet and sometimes dry, but water's always wet." The chemist in me wanted to explain this as a state of matter and leave it at that, but from a more philosophical viewpoint I found it quite an interesting point. We overlook these finer points of the world around us when we've learned to explain "how things work" and get on with "making them work for us" but the wonder of the world around us is ours to enjoy when we take the time to see them through the eyes of a child.


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