I realize the title of this post and my history of twisted sarcasm have probably led you to suspect that I’m about to tell a dark saga involving tyrannical children and poop, but I’m actually not. I’m actually going to tell you a happy Christmas story, as indicated. Or Hanukkah. Or Kwanzaa. Or every-other-day if you’re a Jehovah’s Witness.
It’s happy. And it’s Christmastime (for us). Therefore, it’s a happy Christmas story.
For your soul.
A couple weeks ago, Rocket, Georgia and I were in a restaurant. It was lunchtime and the place was pretty full. While waiting for our food, I was doing the usual follow-Georgia-around-the-restaurant-because-she’ll-only-sit-in-the-high-chair-for-12-and-a-half-minutes-and-I-need-to-save-it-for-when-the-food-actually-comes routine, which involves, of course, her stomping around the restaurant with great determination (though without destination), and me following, fielding glares from people when she falls on the floor and they look at me like “what kind of mother are you, letting your toddler touch that dirty ground.”
And with my eyes I say “bite me you judgmental childless bat.”
That’s not what I meant.
Yes it is. Because anybody who’s ever had a kid knows that most of them, at one point, learn to walk, and learning to walk involves FALLING, and falling kids aren’t interested in holding their mother’s hands. Do you know I’ve received at least 3 comments from strangers telling me I should hold my kid’s hand? Whatever.
Why am I always off topic?
So we’re walking around at an alarmingly rapid pace when all of a sudden Georgia stops dead in her tracks. Just stops completely and fixates on a very old, frail, kind-looking man sitting next to his wife. He was smiling at Georgia.
Georgia’s face was serious and focused, like she was trying to understand him. She then did something I have never seen her do to any stranger. Keeping her eyes on his, she put both hands up in the universal “pick me up” gesture. My jaw dropped. I couldn’t believe it.
With some effort he pushed back his chair and turned around toward her. And with shaking hands this old man reached down and lifted up my daughter as she walked confidently into his arms. With determination that matched hers, he struggled to set her in his lap, facing him. She then, without hesitation, rested her head on his chest with all the calmness and serenity I’ve ever seen in her.
By now many people in the restaurant were watching, struck by a pretty interesting turn of events.
He patted her back and I felt like I was witnessing something that mattered, though I couldn’t figure out how. I didn’t say a word.
She lifted her head, looked up at him intently, then rested it on his chest again.
His face glowed, his eyes lit up with joy and pride and delight. They fell shut for a moment, as if he were trying to hold this moment completely in his mind.
She looked up into his face one more time, turned, and crawled off his lap, then kept stomping along her way.
It was one of those things in life that is so unexpected and inexplicable you roll it over and over in your head but can’t make sense of it. Why that guy? Why then? Why so much affection? What was her draw to this particular man?
When I told Mac the story he said something that rocked my soul.
He said “I wonder if he is about to die, and Georgia related to him, you know, like two people on either end. Maybe she knew he was like her, close to the source but on the other end.”
Now I’m not stupid enough to start talking about the “G” word on my blog. (God, not Georgia). I will only say that since having my first kid, it’s been apparent to me that young children are tuned into something that most adults have missed for a very, very long time – for whatever reason.
Maybe it’s just an incredible presence – an ability to stay right in the moment, all the time, in complete openness to whatever comes and where, evidently, miraculous gestures of love occur.
Where old men get hugs from toddlers they don’t know and whole restaurants get to see two complete strangers connect in love, on a level of existence that doesn’t make sense to most of us.
A moment of compassion and acceptance and truth. A moment of embrace. A very old, shaking man, and a bright, energetic toddler – a child who paused and took a moment to see him, see all of him, see his soul. And she saw that it needed something. A hug, perhaps, particularly.
And so, she gave it to him.
It was as if he was an old friend.
When he left, he patted Georgia’s head gently and she grinned and he looked at me with a knowing smile. There was a tear in his eye.
Perhaps they both understood.