Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Through a Child's Eyes

There are over one billion videos on YouTube and not a day goes by, it seems, when a friend doesn’t send me a link to some new, kooky video I “have to see!”

Well, I’m sorry to do this, but here's a video you have to see! It’s just five minutes long and it describes the lessons learned by a man named Ric Elias as he was experiencing his plane crashing.

The most important lesson he learned, he says, was to strive to be the best parent he could be.  But what does it mean to be the best parent you can be?  How does one go from a good parent to a great parent to the best parent?

Like most Edina parents, I provide for my children.  I push them to succeed at school, to give it their best in basketball and figure skating, to practice their musical instruments, to be nice every chance they can get.  I ask repeatedly:  “Have you done all your homework?”  “Brushed your teeth?”  “Said a prayer?”  I have a feeling, though, that doing those things makes me a good parent—even a great parent—but not the best parent. 

It’s when I try to see the world through their eyes—not as I want them to see it or experience it—that I begin to sense that I am being the best parent I can be. When I try to feel their fear, their aloneness, their wonder, their unbearable lightness of being a child.

For a minute, maybe two, out of the 1,440 in a day, I do feel the world as my children feel it.  I feel the fear they must so often feel living in the world with so much swirling all around them every day. The wonder of knowing so many things for the first time. The aloneness they must feel sometimes as they sense having so little control, so little say, being so completely dependent on two adults who, I admit, sometimes scare them with their anger and disappointment at the day’s frustrations.

And once in a while, in the still of the moment, when time seems to stop, I sense their knowing that, at their core, they realize that without my wife and me, they would feel they have no one in this world.  And that’s a knowing that’s terribly difficult to accept.  An honest truth that’s heavy to bear.

Being a great parent is ensuring the homework is done, the teeth are brushed, the clothes put away and the prayer said. 

Being the best parent is striving to see the world through their eyes.  Both the wonder and the fear.  The excitement and the sadness.  The simplicity and the complexity.

For only when we see through our child’s eyes can we ever really inspire our child’s imagination, touch our child’s heart, move our child’s soul.  And when we do those things, we are doing what Ric Elias encourages us to do: above all else in our lives, to be the best parents we can be.

Chris Deets

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