My favorite part of July 4th was watching my children with sparklers.
The way the glow from the sparklers lit up their faces, which were filled with wonder, made my heart grow.
It revealed how childlike they really were, and how their features were still so young. Kate, especially, was all rounded cheeks and dark lashes. I know how trying 3 is — every single day — but in those moments last Sunday night, I was reminded that she is still closer to baby than kindergartener, at least until the baby-chub does finally melt away for good — as it did with Flora, when she was 4. I count down to Kate’s 4th birthday because I am hoping that the constant challenge that she throws up at me will at least be tempered somehow simply by getting older, but I know too, that those rosy rounded cheeks, so evident when she is sleeping, will slim down. That she will take another step into girl-hood.
The other thing, for me, watching my children’s fascination, is harder to articulate. It wasn’t rediscovering my own child-like wonder. It was a whole new wonder, the wonder of a mother. I was struck anew by the fact that I created (with quite a lot of help, of course) these creatures, these wholly separate beings.
Watching their wonder was witnessing something outside of myself, yet part of myself.
Does that make sense?
It wasn’t the magic of the fireworks that captivated me. It was the miracle of the magic of my children. I want to say “the miracle of life” but I don’t want to sound all new-agey or gooshy.
It was Flora’s immediate embrace of the hissing, sparking stick in her hand. It was Kate dropping her first sparkler in fear before it even got lit. It was Flora writing her name and making shapes in the air with fire. It was Kate running, whooping through the yard, sparkler aloft, as if declaring victory over the night.
It was realizing I had launched these girls into the world, that while I was wholly responsible for them, they would go away from me and discover new and magical things, things at once beautiful and potentially painful. And that I can no more call them back from their discoveries than keep them small, wonder-filled children. And that as scary as that fact is, I am thrilled, simply thrilled, to be held witness.
4 thoughts on “Deep-Feeling Fascination”
Do you notice that the kids have predispositions toward being more like you or Dan? We have three (I have interest, if not genetics, in 3) and Kristen was purely her mother’s doppelganger, all attitude, defensiveness and pre-occupation with stereotypical female pursuits. At 10, though, I had the least effect on her. Mackenzie, our middle child, is a concrete operational, rule oriented, if there is a law it had better be sensible copy of his law enforcement father. He was even born with his dad’s pot belly that has never left. Taylor, our youngest, seems more like me; a process oriented child sensitive to those that are left out, often lost in the wonder of how things come to be. Does nurture impose that, or did nature predispose their little selves to be different permutations of our good and bad points?
Hoo-boy. This is a whole blog post into and of itself. The short answer is yes: each of the girls exhibits good points and weaknesses of us parents. Le Bud is such a mystery — I wonder who he/she will be like and how.
I was always scared of sparklers. Still am. I hope I’m able to overcome that so my children can enjoy them (or decide on their own to fear them). Wherever you guys were in those photos, that sunset is gorgeous!!
That is Bemis Point, NY, on Chatauqua Lake. Not as pretty as the sunsets on Lake Erie, but not too shabby!