My favorite memory of the fall was taking Grace to the fair last month. We didn’t leave the house until it was close to her bedtime. It was a special night, though, a night that marks the first of many Autumn family traditions to come, so we let her stay up late this time.
We arrive perpendicular to Main Street and park the car. We take her out of her car seat and plant her on her daddy’s hip. She never stays in her stroller these days, so we don’t make an attempt at it tonight. In the eyes of my daughter, there are too many miracles happening left and right to be looking in the same direction for too long.
It was a risk, we said on the way, “hopefully she will be too distracted by everything going on to think about being tired.” We start to walk across the street, and I see her eyes brighten. A police officer is waving walkers on across the street. In the eyes of my daughter, he is dancing.
We make our way to the food stands filled to the brim with funnel cakes and French fries and soft pretzels. Scents of grease and sweets welcome us. The people inside the trucks, stands, and trailers are shouting over all of the noise. In the eyes of my daughter, they are calling out to her. She squeals and waves.
We walk to the Ferris wheel. It’s bright and blinking and spinning. We’ve been waiting to show this to her, sure that if she has no interest in anything else, this will surely catch her attention. This is the moment. She throws her hands up in the air to grab it even though it’s a at least a few dozen feet in front of her and so high, far out of reach. In the eyes of my daughter, it’s big enough and close enough to touch. Yes, in her eyes, this spinning mechanical wheel is magical and beautiful and she could catch it and watch it do the same thing over and over again for hours and her amazement would never dwindle.
In the eyes of my daughter, everything is new. A stuffed animal comes to life. A balloon beckons her touch. Every book she sees needs to be read, every page touched, every picture studied. There is excitement in the unknown of peeking inside a messenger bag or opening a cabinet door. In the eyes of my daughter, the wind teases her and the raindrops fall only to tickle her nose. In the eyes of my daughter, beds are for jumping, shoulders are for resting her head, and hands are meant for clapping in joy.
I pray that I can see life through the eyes of my daughter. That I can drink in the mundane moments and savor them. To explore and to be inquisitive. To always be captivated by the light of a Christmas tree the way that she is. To dance and laugh – really laugh – with no sense of self-consciousness. To see an instrument and stop what I’m doing to make music and admire the sound, even when it’s off-key. To see eyes and smiles of people before seeing made conclusions. To wave ‘hello’ without hesitation or fear of rejection.
Instead, I fall short daily. Too little patience, too much on my mind. Not enough play time, too much housework to do. But when I ask myself, who am I in the eyes of my daughter, I realize I am comfort, warmth, love, silliness, and playfulness. I am inviting, her soft place to land. Her source of nourishment, her release after holding it all together. Her hero, her caught kiss, her encourager, her teacher. I pray I can be the person who is seen in the eyes of my daughter.