This is Childhood contributing author, Lindsey Mead
One morning in the middle of the year Grace was in 3rd grade, while driving to school, I asked both my children what they thought they would remember as the main thing they had learned from me. Why I asked I’m not sure, but legacy and lessons were on my mind. Whit blurted out, “Potty training,” and all three of us laughed.
“Well, Whit, that is one thing I’m awfully glad you learned,” I said with a grin. Grace was looking out the window, pondering.
“Manners, I think,” she said, hesitating. “Oh, and paying attention.” I glanced back and caught her eye in the mirror, then brought my gaze back to the road. “Yeah, that. You talk so much about wonder. I guess paying attention to the wonder.”
We pulled up to school and the moment was gone. I walked both kids across the street and into the gate, pressed kisses on both of their cheeks, and got back in the car. I caught a glimpse of Grace’s profile as I waited to pull out and drive away, and was struck by how it still looked exactly like the silhouette of her as a nine month old that I’d had painted onto a Christmas ornament.
All day I thought about wonder. Urging my children to really notice things, and to remain open to wonder, is without a doubt one of the central themes of my parenting. I am extremely porous to the world, to both its grandeur and its terror, and sometimes this overwhelms me. If I were paying slightly less attention, for example, perhaps I’d be able to get through a day without being brought to my knees by the slicing realization of how fast it’s all going. But I don’t know how to be in the world any other way. And so I’m left with what I notice, and with what I wonder.