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love note no.12: dear youngest child.

Dear youngest child,

It’s rare to have time alone with you these days.  You grab your baseball glove and call your dad to come play with you.  I’m the one who calls you in to get a drink or take a break or give you a kiss on the head.  You wave me off and play outside until it gets dark.

A few weeks ago, we had a morning together.  Your sisters all had their own busy lives to lead and we found ourselves alone.  We were downtown waiting for one of your sisters and I asked you what you wanted to do.  Take a walk and explore?  Find a park?  Or my personal favourite, have coffee and talk about life?

After that last option, you gave me a face and shook your head and made a huge sigh.  It’s been a long time since we did something together.  You didn’t know what to do with me.  We didn’t have baseball gloves to play catch and we were in the middle of the busiest part of the city.  You hate crowds and don’t like to walk city blocks.

We sat side by side thinking.  After a moment or two of deep thought, you looked up at me with a smile and said, “I would like a magnifying glass.”

I said, “Come again?”

You said, “A magnifying glass.  If I could get a magnifying glass, we could have some fun.”

I was intrigued and said, “Ok buddy.  I think that’s our first adventure of the morning.  Let’s go find a magnifying glass.”

Surprisingly it didn’t take long to find one.  We walked into one of those stores that sells pretty much everything unrelated and there it was, a magnifying glass.

You grabbed it and looked at everything up close.

magnifying glass

Everything became interesting.  You called me every few seconds to show me the inside of a flower or the intricate movement of a potato bug.

We walked slowly down the busy city block.  I steered you away from the throngs of annoyed people because you weren’t looking where you were going. You had more important things to look at.  I never told you to stop.  I never asked you to stop swimming upstream.

We did make it to a cafe and you didn’t mind sitting with me while I had a coffee because there were so many cool things to look at with your magnifying glass.  You looked at the woodgrain on the table and the little ant carrying the crumb that was ten times its size.  And then we played a game.  I took out my notebook and drew tiny pictures and tiny words and you had to use your magnifying glass to figure it out.

You looked in my mouth to see if you could see all the way to my stomach and in my eye to see if you could see my brain.  As we were waiting for your sister on a bench in the museum, you discovered something cool.  You said that you could make light dance with your magnifying glass.  I watched as you played with the reflection of light on dark and on the pages of my white notebook.  You wondered and I didn’t give you the answers.  I wondered along with you.  I didn’t want to box you in with what I already knew.  I wanted you to come up with anything and everything your imagination could conjure up.

The little piece of light waxed and waned.  You said it was like the moon.  You made the light shape shift into tadpoles, shooting stars, and ice cream cones.

In one morning with you, I looked closer than ever before and watched light dance.  I lost myself in your world.  I let you lead the way.  It would have been easy for me to lead that morning instead. I could have run errands with you.  I could have been on my phone.  I could have made you sit in a cafe with an activity book while I read my own book.  I have done all those things before.

But that day, I wanted to follow you.  I was curious to see how you see.  You see things I don’t.  You give me permission to get on my hands and knees in the middle of a busy intersection to see a graffiti drawing up close even though I know the light is about to turn yellow.  You make me jealous of your childhood because you actually can’t see what I see, from eyes that are accustomed to grown up worries and fears.

I know that you are growing up.  I see how you go to Daddy first and how he makes you kiss me goodbye.  You still curl up in my lap when you are tired or sick but I am not the first person with whom you want to have fun.  But I will remember this day with you every time I am too busy to listen to your stories or to stop and look when you need me to.

The day I looked close enough to see what was really important and the day I first saw you make light dance.  I know it won’t be the last.

I love you,

Mama

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