Gratitude makes the journey better. Kindness, too.

Off The Beaten Path

20130504_205413_resizedTo parent an emotionally astute child is not for the faint of heart. Subjective, you say. Be it so, some days take you for a tumble and make you question yourself yet again. As a parent and beyond that. Your child will point out the emotions that surface on your face like bobbing barrels on a stormy sea, hoping that he will find the key to who you are, because there might just lie the answer to who he is as well.

Parenting often feels like you’re stomping on a field that’s emotionally mined anyway. As they grow, children leave that sweet dwelling of “hugs and kisses to feel better” and move into a world where they need you much more, but act aloof because they happened to read the instructions backwards. Go figure.

You want to be there for them as they grow, and they do too, but they still push you away, yet it is striking to realize that they push you towards yourself. So that you face yourself and thus make things better for all involved. You tell them be real, be yourself, don’t take things for granted and don’t waste today and now. They ask “are you?”

A child who thinks as much as you do, though on a slightly smaller scale, is both scary and miraculous. Like a pulsating vein you see contoured on the back of your hand, you can guess its texture but not quite. And because they’ve been feeding on your words since before they were born, they’ll come back to listen to them; they need to, more so when the going gets tough.

They sit and listen to you, eyes and ears pointed to your soul, and you are all there, letting them see the world the way you see it, with all the discoveries you’ve made along the way. They listen and learn, and when they learn they question things the same way you do but their intensity makes for an even sharper spear to slay the unwanted.

Then they call it as they see it. And then you, the parent, wonder if you’re doing it right after all. Because they don’t sugarcoat anything, they let it all out and you think they’re like that because that’s how they are. But they hurt at times because, like you, they see more than they can handle or understand or accept. And that’s when you wonder whether you made them see more and question more with your way of doing it like that.

Schooling has always been a big conundrum in our little circle. Yes and no still clash in midair when I think about it all, and I don’t have an answer that proves to be responsible, smart, visionary and abiding to the laws of the world we live in (or so I am told.)

“Why do I have to go to school? I can learn on my own.” Is it so? Yes it is, you know it is but as you’re weighing your options you feel like the sly merchant who uses the fake heavy weight to sell his stuff. But some days are good, kids roll home with faces dipped in big smiles and you can say it out loud “See, it’s good, I told you so…”

But on the days that make frowning an iron mask for the little faces, you just sit and listen. School should be joyous, right? If it’s not, you’re questioning yourself and the world yet again. And you hurt when your children hurt.

They come home questioning some of the adults they’re supposed to rely on for help or smiles, whichever comes first. Wise enough to avoid conflict with peers if need be, children are baffled by adults who can’t get the right grip when dealing with kids.

To cloud a day, you don’t smile. Adults should know that. Some do and still don’t smile.

The world is not kind and you can ask yourself “why” a million times and the answer will be the same every time “Because it is. So there.”

How to make it right for children then? You cannot change the world for them, and you know that everyone they encounter makes them become who they’ll be tomorrow. You cannot be there for them all the time, but you can open your arms wide to allow them to bring their ruffled selves and hide in there.

You can sit in the backyard in the sunset and eat watermelon. It might drip, ticklishly so, on tummies and legs. The children will giggle and lick the juice off their fingers and you’ll think… So there’s still time to learn, to make it right. And you just know that right is in the eye of the beholder… But you’re not it. Who is then?


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  1. this column hums with truth and beauty. thank you.

    • Thank you :-). Truth is what follows us around like a most insistent and clever puppy… We cannot not oblige 🙂

  2. When your child is emotionally astute, you know you’re doing something right!

    • 🙂 Thank you Graciela… And yet we all fall prey to doubt every now and then. It ebbs and flows, pretty much like everything else you could say.

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