Monday, February 23, 2009

Hold This

The day was unseasonably warm, and the sun on my face felt like a surprise visit from an old, cherished friend. I grinned as I watched my son toddling around the playground, gathering sticks to put in a pile, a look of concentration on his face.

His tiny, dimpled hand reached for another stick, and he held it high, examining it from all angles in the sun. "Stick!", he exclaimed, to no one in particular. Then, he turned, and brought it to me, smiling, and saying again, "Stick!" "Do you like that stick?", I asked him. "Yeth!", he replied. He held the stick out, hesitantly, not speaking, but communicating with his eyes. "Do you want me to hold this for you, sweetie?" "YETH!", he shouted, before running off to resume his task.

I watched him from a distance, far enough to give him space to explore independently, but close enough to keep him safe. Every so often, he would stop what he was doing and come take my hand to see if I still had that stick. He would smile quickly at me, before turning to run away.

Working with children, I have been given many things to hold over the years - a paint-splattered paper, a colorful marble, a wilted flower, a dried leaf, a smooth stone. I can't even tell you how many times I would get home, and reach into my coat pockets to discover one or several of these items. It always seemed like a nuisance. Why were they asking me to hold it?

But, on that day, looking down at that tiny stick in my hand, it dawned on me. I was gaining his trust. God only knows why that stick was important to him, but it was, and he had given it to me. To keep safe. To respect. To cherish. To hold.

If I had thrown the stick on the ground, what message would have been sent? It seemed like such a small, insignificant thing - being given something to hold. But what about when he is older? Will he give me anything then? Will he sit beside me and share the stories of his days? Will he tell me about his new best friend, and why he likes him? Will he tell me how a classmates unkind words hurt him? Will he tell me about his first crush? Will he trust me enough?

I sure hope so. But, until then, I'll just clutch the stick, or wilted flower, or small stone, as if my life depended on it. And, if he does someday trust me enough to share those stories and those feelings with me, I will respect them. I will cherish them and keep them safe. I will hold on to them.


Jonny's Mommy said...

This is beautiful. I worry so much about what the future holds and if Jonathan will ever speak to me after he hits the teen years and ... *deep breath* I need to just enjoy these small moments and take them all in. What a great reminder this post is...Thank you so much, Jen....for reminding me again to slow down and just enjoy. Jonathan being sick has reminded me of this too. Thank you for all the concern you have shown .. he is doing a little better and is sleeping right now..I plan to go join him now.

Sparx said...

Oh yes, hold onto the sticks. My neighbour has a closet full and apparently she's not allowed to throw out any of them!

The Girls' Mommy said...

OH, good mommy!! :)

I usually tell them that daddy would just LOVE to hold it for them...

Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

If he's anything like my boys he won't tell you about his first crush--but I don't take it personally--most boys are pretty close-mouthed creatures. He will still trust you though, and you'll know it.

Janet said...

Yes indeed. I have been the recipient of muddy gravel, wilted flowers, crumbling leaves, and dead insects. I hold onto them all. And we have special containers for them.
You are a wise woman, and you write about it beautifully.

JCK said...

Perhaps the most beautiful post you have written. Lovely. And so insightful.