Through the Eyes of a Child

Photo by Kelley Hicken

Every once in awhile, I find myself repeating the motherly warnings from my childhood–things I swore I would never dispense to my own children. “Just remember, Mommy has eyes on the back of her head.” Or my favorite, “Suck in that bottom lip before I cut it off!”

One day, after listening to my five year old whine for an hour that he didn’t have enough toys, I rattled off another cliché mom-ism. With too much edginess in my voice to make it believable, I preached, “Happiness is a decision.”

Boy, he saw right through my hypocrisy. Grinning he said, “Mommy, you are making a bad decision.”

Busted.

I realized his method of teaching was far more effective than my own. Where I regurgitated silly expressions as seemed applicable, he cut straight to the heart with gentle honesty. Like most children, he is quicker to smile, quicker to make friends, and quicker to forgive than any adult I have ever known. Why would I lecture him on happiness?

I committed to take my own advice, and decided to be happy. It should be easy, right? After all, I have my son from whom I can draw inspiration. So began my experimental journal. I documented our first conversation each morning for one week, hoping he would have valuable lessons to teach me. He did not disappoint.

 

Morning one:

Photo by Kelley Hicken

I wake to the sound of laughter, the whole-body kind of laughter that only five-year-old boys can produce. I smile groggily, and look over at my husband who smiles without opening his eyes. Moments later, Logan stomps through the door, singing, “Yo ho, yo ho, a pirate’s life for me.”

 

“What were you laughing at?” I ask.

 

He pauses, that precocious smile spreading over his face and topaz eyes sparkling, and looks at the empty space between me and the ceiling only to giggle all over again.

“It must be nice to wake up so happy every morning.”

He looks down at me, eyebrows furrowing, “I will help you be happy . . . tomorrow.”

Today, he’s teaching me to laugh even if there is no obvious reason for doing it.

 

Morning two:

bedtime

Photo by Kelley Hicken

Logan climbs into bed with me. I only notice because of the elbows and knees digging into my legs and back. He settles under the covers and lays perfectly still, long enough that I think he’s fallen asleep again. I open one eye, shocked to see him staring right at me.

“You’re such a pretty girl,” he whispers.

“Thank you,” I respond as my heart melts.

“Just like me.” I laugh, and his raspy voice laughs right along with me.

Today he’s teaching me the power of freely-given, genuine compliments.

 

Morning three:

A tiny hand repeatedly smacks my forehead. “Mommy, the sun is up. Get out of bed or it will go back down!”

Today I’m learning that I need to wake up before the sun . . . and the boy. But more importantly, I’m learning to enjoy mornings.

 

Morning four:

Photo by Kelley Hicken

I’ve outwitted him by setting my alarm. I roll out of bed and start stretching, only to find within seconds, he is next to me mimicking each move.

“Oh, Mommy. It feels soooo good to stretch my guts.” He looks again at that empty space above me. “And my butt.”

Sometimes we take health for granted. Today he’s teaching me to slow down and enjoy the feeling of a healthy body.

 

Morning five:

I gasp, grabbing my chest. “Honey, it freaks Mommy out to have you staring at me when I open my eyes.”

He doesn’t bother to consider my plea. “I have to tell you something. You’re not Spiderman. You’re Spidermom!” He laughs so hard he falls to the ground, clutching his stomach.

My stomach muscles get their workout before my feet hit the floor. No matter how much we notice our own shortcomings, our children see us as superheroes. Every day, he teaches me to look at myself, and others, through optimistic eyes.

 

Morning six:

Photo submitted by Kelley Hicken

He curls up in bed next to me, wraps his warm little arms around me, and squishes my ear as he rests his head on mine. “Mommy, you’re my buddy, right?”

I reply, “Of course, best buddies.”

“I double love you,” he sighs. “Forever and ever.”

I have so much to learn from this child. He continues to teach me that happiness is easy when you surround yourself with loving people.

 

 

 

This morning:

I can’t wait for him to wake up and see what he’ll teach me today.

 

QUESTION: What is the last thing you remember learning from your child?

CHALLENGE: Take this day to be the learner instead of the teacher. Listen and appreciate life through the eyes of your children–you may find a long-forgotten happiness.

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Comments

  1. Risé B. says

    I remember sharing something with a friend years ago about the things children teach us. I grew up with a parent who tried desperately to make me into who she wanted and expected me to be. Trouble was, I wasn’t allowed to be, ME. Pointing out her flaws (even in a gentle way) was seen as being disrespectful. Questioning anything she did was disrespectful.

    When I became a mom, and my kids started to express themselves – and Iet them. I let my kids have what was denied me – I let them have a voice. Of course, they had to be respectful about it, but I let them have a voice. My husband and I let them challenge the rules we make for them. We explain why there are rules, which they thought were designed to take away their fun. When we explained that its not to take away their fun, but that rules are there for their protection. Things explained make things more tolerable for kids.

    Furthermore, as a mom, I was amazed at learning who they are and I’d often ponder at who they will be once their flowers have bloomed. It still awes me. My kids are 16, 13 and 11.

    More than once, kids have an innocent way at pointing out our shortcomings and hypocrisies – even though at the moment, I can think of one single incident – but I know they’ve happened – more than once. I remember talking about motherhood with a friend and telling her that if the Lord had never given me children, He could have never moulded me into the woman I am today. Children have a way of smoothing out our edges, of softening the rough spots in the most surprising gentle way. They have a way at exposing those things in us we often overlook ourselves. When children are a blessing – they really are. They are a blessing to us as much as we can be to them.

    I have given my children many pearls … but they have also given so many of them to me.

    • Kelley Hicken says

      So true, Risé B. These kids really have a natural talent for refining us. Thanks for your comment. Your mention of your parent made me really appreciate how my parents have allowed me to be myself. Even with this article, where I point out a couple of funny things I didn’t want to repeat as a mom, my mom allowed me to express that without acting defensive. She understood my intention, and didn’t take offense to the way I presented it here. Yes, I’m still learning from my mom even though I’m in my 30’s. Motherhood is a big job! Thanks for the reminder.

    • Kelley Hicken says

      I think you’re right, Crystal. Life is good when you can recognize the small wonders all around you.

  2. Mark says

    I wish every person could experience being woken up by a child like this. There is no better way to start the day than by being loved and by feeling happy! Thanks for the great post!

  3. Judy Ardelt says

    “Through the Eyes of a Child” — WOW! That was absolutely fantastic. It has given me inspiration to write about the little daily things that go on with my children — something I have thought about doing forever but never seem to take the time to do. Each phase of their lives is unique and different and if we really pay attention, we can learn so much from these children who will one day leave us and be on their own. Kelley is someone every mom can relate to — loved her article!! And I loved the pictures. It made it even more fun to read. I hope I’ll see more by Kelley in the future!

    • Kelley Hicken says

      Thank you, Judy. That’s the best compliment you could give me – that I helped inspire you to take action and write about your own children. I hope you do, because these quirky saying are turning into quite a treasure for me that I know I will forget one day when he’s all grown up unless I record them now.

  4. Valerie says

    What an eye-opening article! Made me realize how much I take for granted. I am going to take the challenge. I can’t wait to see what my kids have to teach me.

  5. Cindy says

    What a great message to remind us to focus on our dear little ones. These little kiddos are just bundles of sweet energy. I just learned how to be a good friend as I looked over my garden and went on and on about all of the different properties of plants. My four year old stood their excitedly listening to everything I had to say just because he wanted to be around me and learn about what I like. That’s how good friends should be.

    • Kelley Hicken says

      That’s really sweet, Cindy. That boy is going to make a really good man one day, with those listening skills. :)

  6. says

    Your story gave me goose-bumps,Kelley! I love how this little guy is so happy to see you each morning and how you turn his words into life lessons. Excellent observations, excellent parenting, and excellent writing!

  7. Allyson Reynolds says

    This is so sweet! What a fresh way to look at all those tender things our kids say on a daily basis. How much we have to learn!

  8. Mark says

    This helped me to be more kind and a better parent to my son this morning when I woke up. Instead of telling him, “It’s too early, go back to bed.” I just let him go and play.

    Here’s what I learned from that simple experience.
    1. It’s good to wake up early! The kid is happy as can be. Maybe I should follow his example by waking up a bit earlier.
    2. Nobody likes to be controlled and I think all too often we try to control our children rather than guiding them and allowing them live their own lives and gain their own experience. Granted it’s a fine balance. He shouldn’t have to take my word for it though. If it really is too early he’ll find that out on his own.

    Thanks again for the great ideas Kelley!

  9. Kelly Cammack says

    Hey Kelley, Still smiling, my boy is all grown up, a man of 28 but still teaching me everyday. Your story brought back a flood of precious memories. Thanks.

  10. Mary Christensen says

    Something I read in a book when I first had my son was the advice to always show respect to your child. When they are so small it can often be easy to be controlling and less considerate of their feelings. I remind myself of those words often. As my little one gets older, and begins to speak more, I look forward to the words of wisdom he will deliver. Your post and that advice I once read, together will remind me to stop and listen and to humble myself to be willing to learn from him. Well stated, Spidermom.

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