“I brought this just for you, Mr. Paul!” The twinkling eyes of the little four year old matched the ear-to-ear grin on her face as she handed me the cone-shaped Culligan cup. I was a bit confused for a moment and then I glanced inside the cup, to find a lone scraggly clover blossom scrunched up way down in the bottom. Little Addison was back again with her mom, visiting with me about everything under her sun as Mom washed the windows at the music store. After every one of her visits, I have a different perspective on life. Addison is not one of those children who fits the mold, who is concerned about doing things “just so”. She is definitely a free spirit and one whose thinking patterns run outside the barriers we adults tend to place on children.
When she and her mom arrived this afternoon, I thought at first that she had not made the trip today. Her mom got her equipment out and started washing the windows with no sign of a little girl to be seen. A few moments later, the door opened almost silently, simply because she wished it to be that way. The little imp knows that there is a set of bells attached to the inside door knob and she loves to try to beat our makeshift alarm system by opening the door as gently as possible. I heard the slightest hint of a jingle and smiled at her beaming face peeking in. Of course, she headed for the candy bucket as soon as she came in. “I hope you have some better suckers today,” she stated sternly. The last time she was here, the bucket was a bit sparsely populated, mostly with flavors that none of the kids were interested in. She was surprised to find that the contents had changed shape a bit, with nary a stick to be found. “What are these things?” came the surprised voice. “They look like floaties!” I explained that they were called Lifesavers, and that they were called that because of the shape. “They look like what I wear around my tummy when I swim!” she exclaimed, grasping the concept immediately. As we talked, I told her that she could pick out one to eat if it was okay with her mom. She dutifully sought out her mother and told her that she was going to have some candy, leaving no chance for a negative response from that quarter.
As she approached the counter again, I held the bucket down below her line of sight so she could pick a color. The girl had ideas of her own though, grasping the entire bucket in her pudgy little hands and pulling it from my grip. “If I’m going to choose, I want to see them all,” she insisted, and took the metal container over to the children’s table, dumping the contents out. Somewhere in the process, she noticed that there were only a few different colors, although there were many individual candies, so she decided to count all of them while she wrestled with the decision of which was the most desirable color. Laying them out in lines of ten each, she got as high as thirty and had to have help with the rest. “Mom, what comes after thirty?” The words came out of her mouth, but almost as quickly, another thought hit her and she got up abruptly, heading out of the front door. We watched her go out to the car and climb up into the high vehicle, exiting it just a moment later. Her mom saw what she had in her hands and said quietly, “I was hoping she had forgotten it. I’m sorry…” The next thing I knew, the water cup was in my hand and I was searching for the right words to express my wonder and gratitude. Her mom, confusing my hesitation for embarrassment, was quick to apologize again, but I assured her that I wasn’t offended at all.
“Did you know that these flowers are the bees’ favorite this time of year, Addison?” I asked. She shook her head, and I went on. “I think I like them just as much as the bees do.” With that, she was satisfied that her gift was properly appreciated and turned back to her counting, as if nothing had happened to interrupt it. “Did you say forty comes after that, Mom?” A few moments later, when it was time for her to leave, she picked out one of the green pieces of candy without asking for any more and headed out the door. “Mr.Paul, I won’t be here next time. I’m going to the babysitters. ‘Bye!” And, she was gone.
My father-in-law used to tell about the prominent professional in town to whom he sold a piano. After he had delivered the piano to the man’s home, he went to his place of business to collect the price for the instrument. The man handed him a few bills and, coming up a good bit short, took him back to his office. There, he proceeded to take a wad of bills out of the file cabinet and, getting down on his hands and knees on the floor, began to count out the twenties and tens and fives into piles, until he had the proper amount to hand to the Lovely Lady’s dad. In an even more odd episode, some time later when he moved his office from one building to another, he made many trips up and down the sidewalk, pulling a little red wagon loaded down with file folders. We would call this man “eccentric”. I wonder what that kind of freedom would feel like. No concern for what others are thinking, he was perfectly comfortable doing things his own way. I could tell you of several other examples of his “free spirit”, but I think I’ll save those for another day.
I’ve spent a lifetime tied up in the knots of doing what society says is proper and acceptable. I’m hoping that as I age, I may be able to throw off some of those constraints and live in such a way that I can show people what I really feel. Who knows? Someday that may be me in the middle of a task, stopping suddenly as the thought occurs to me, just like little Addison, and performing a random act of love and kindness for someone nearby. I can think of worse ways to act as I move into my golden years. How about you?
May we grow ever more childlike! Let love be multiplied!
“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a harder battle.”
(Plato~Ancient Greek philosopher~428 BC-348 BC)
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against such things there is no law.”