Saturday, November 23, 2013

Life Lessons

It’s strange how one lesson often morphs into two. Or three. It catches me off guard sometimes when I have to switch directions. Having a child certainly keeps me on my toes. 

No smoking.
When we're driving down the road and see someone smoking I ask Ellie to promise me she’ll never smoke. I really paint a horrific picture of cigarettes. In hindsight, the message of smoking equals badness may have been a little shortsighted.  Not long ago she and I were walking on Market Square, and she pointed (yes, pointed) to a gentleman who was smoking and said, “Oh no, Momma. Look at that man smokin' that yucky cigarette. I bet he stinks and is gonna get sick. I’ll never do that will I?” I’m fairly certain he heard her (Ellie hasn’t fully mastered the method of whispering.) but he graciously turned in the other direction. I was horrified. We talked about how pointing at a person is never okay. Ever. And I explained how smoking is a bad habit but that doesn't make the person who's smoking bad. Then, I still made her pinky swear she’ll never smoke. 

No hablo espanol.
A few months ago Ellie and I were shoe shopping at Dillard’s. I could see that she was mesmerized by two young girls who were speaking Spanish. It still plays out in my memory in slow motion, but it actually happened so quickly there was no way for me to intervene. My kind daughter who just wanted to say hello was somewhat overconfident in her Spanish speaking abilities. She can count from uno to diez, and she's watched about 400 episodes of Dora the Explorer, but that really doesn't prepare one to carry on a conversation. She walked over, smiled, and said something like, “Si, click clack, blue, me, si si.” I literally stood there with my mouth open in complete shock.  Once I gathered myself, I asked Ellie to come along and embarrassingly nodded a quiet apology to the mother. While I was literally dragging Ellie out of the store without any shoes, she innocently asked me, “What did I say to those girls in Spanish?”

Life lessons also work in the other direction. I’ve learned so much from our sweet girl. I’ve relearned how to see things I’ve taken for granted for years. There’s such beauty in the clouds, the moon and stars, and these mountains that hug us every single day. She genuinely finds splendor in leaves and acorns and sticks. How this girl loves her sticks. Sometimes the lesson goes beyond how clearly she sees certain things and poignantly shows how she feels about them. Oh, how blessed I am to be her momma.

Pray without ceasing.
Ellie and I were driving to meet Laddy. Off the Interstate at Western Avenue stood a man holding a sign. She asked me what it said. I was torn between whether I should read it truthfully or just make up that he was wishing us a nice day. In the final second I opted for the truth, and it broke her heart. And mine. She wanted to stop and help him. She wanted to go get him food and give him money from her piggy bank. I tried my best to explain how we really had to be careful and just couldn’t stop. I told her how we do help those who are less fortunate. I explained how we are able to give and to whom, and how there are places for him to go and get help. After about 10 minutes of unsuccessfully trying to change the subject she perked up and told me she'd figured out how we could help him. Then, she prayed the simplest, most sincere and precious prayer I’ve ever heard. And she was at peace.

“…and a little child shall lead them.” Isaiah 11:6

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