There are pivotal moments as a parent when you realize the legacy you will leave behind. There are moments your children show you how well you are teaching them about the true importance of life. I had one of these moments yesterday with Cole. It left such an impact on me, I wanted to write about it.
I took my three-year-old son to the salon in Grand Bend where I get my nails done. It is a three hour process for my gels and I have never taken Cole before. But yesterday Daddy was busy and I had to bring him along. I didn’t bring a bag of toys, or an iPad, or colouring books. Mostly, I was in a hurry and forgot, but I also knew he would find something to keep him busy.
When we got there, I asked Charlotte, one of the hairdressers that work there, if she would trim Cole’s hair since he was there anyhow. He actually needed a good cut so it kind of worked out well. She was kind enough to sit him down right away, but was hesitant about how much she could do because he might not sit still. I told her, “Don’t you worry, my kids are always good at the hair dressers.” She was amazed at how right I was. He turned and dipped his head when she wanted him to and didn’t wiggle or fidget. He smiled while she worked and when Charlotte was finished she told him she would cut his hair anytime he needed it. Number 1 Heart Filler.
Cole sat beside me for a bit and watched as Kalah buffed off my old nails. He thought the grinder was interesting and watched intensely. Then the door opened and in came a woman, helping an elderly lady. She spoke with Charlotte and I couldn’t help but overhear the conversation. It was clear to me the little old lady didn’t get out of her home much and having her hair done was a special treat for her. She seemed lonely and I couldn’t help but feel sad for her. Her friend left to go run some errands and said she would be back to pick her up. The elderly lady chatted with Charlotte as Charlotte cut and put curlers in her hair. Cole watched intently. At one point he asked me who the lady was. Then he made a comment about the hair falling on the floor. I told him to go ask Charlotte for a broom and he could help sweep it up. He was thrilled with the prospect of helping. So down he jumped and he went right up to Charlotte, asked for the broom, and she immediately pointed him in the direction the broom was kept. Number 2 Heart Filler.
Now I feel the need to interject here with a thought I had. I have been going to get my nails done at that salon since this past summer. I don’t know the people that work there intimately, but I do think I have a good grasp for character and they always felt like good people to me. I am sure at some salons, Cole would have been told no and he would have been made to feel like he was in the way. But Charlotte welcomed his offer to help and didn’t mind when he whacked her with the broom as he weaved in and out of her legs while she worked on her client. Cole was made to feel important.
When Cole was done, he put the broom away and sat back beside me. Charlotte finished the elderly lady’s hair and she sat and waited for her friend to come back and get her. Charlotte had to start a pedicure in another room. Cole had decided to play a game on my phone. I leaned over and told him that I thought the lady would love if he showed her his game. Without hesitation, Cole jumped down and sauntered over to the lady. Now I think this woman was a bit hard of hearing, but Cole did his best to talk with her and exchange pleasantries. He then showed her his array of games and I overheard as the lady asked him questions and giggled with him about the funny noises his silly games were making. It was clear this lady’s heart was warmed by Cole’s attention. Number 3 Heart filler.
Then something completely unexpected happened. The elderly lady asked Cole what he wanted for Christmas. Cole’s response was instantaneous. “I don’t need anything for Christmas. I already have lots of toys.” And my heart runneth over.
I have taken a very different approach to Christmas this year. I have spent a lot of time instilling what Christmas is about to the kids. We talk about spending time with family, about giving to others, about being humble and understanding that they are so blessed in their lives that they needn’t want for anything. My kids were told that this year they could ask for one thing from us, and one thing from Santa. Then we decided to ask Santa to do a treasure hunt in our house so that Christmas morning we could start our own family tradition. Our treasure hunt would lead the kids to a family gift they could all enjoy together. Santa was more than happy to oblige and told Mommy that he was super excited about leaving clues everywhere for the kids to read and decipher. My goal was to help them refocus on the things they do have and not want for the frivolous things they don’t have. This refocus is needed in our house. Over the past year I have seen and heard things in my children that don’t accentuate the beliefs I want them to have. They are good kids, but sometimes they get caught up in the things of this world and lose sight of what is important.
I am also a realist. I know kids see a big part of Christmas as PRESENTS, PRESENTS, PRESENTS! But the kids were more than willing to scale it back this year and I was thankful they didn’t balk at the conversations we had regarding the Christmas spirit!
So all that being said, Cole’s statement in the salon struck a chord in my heart. I sat up a little higher in my chair and I smiled to myself. I am sure I was beaming with pride in that moment. My three-year-old had heard my voice and my sentiments about this Christmas. Of all the kids, I thought maybe he was too young for my message to reverberate in him. But clearly I underestimated his ability to absorb and comprehend my words and feelings.
I don’t even think the nice lady heard Cole. She just smiled and continued to chitter-chatter with him until her friend came to pick her up. He bid her goodbye and came back to sit beside me.
Charlotte had another client and Cole swept. Cole played some games on my phone. Near the end of the three hours Cole was getting restless. He was starting to ask to go. I couldn’t blame him for being impatient finally because it was a super long time for a kid his age to keep busy. So I reassured him we were going to the grocery store to pick a few things up and told him that because he had been such a good boy, he could pick anything in the entire store for a treat. I mentioned he would need to eat it in the car so his siblings didn’t get jealous. And then he turned the tables on me. His response: “Mom, I need to get something for everyone. Emily, Carter and Madelyn should all have a treat too. Can I pick out something for all of us?”
Yup, the warmth in my heart was spilling out into the cracks of the wooden floor. This was the legacy I was leaving behind. This little boy showed me in three hours a goodness in him that we only hope we’ll instill in our children.
As we finished, Kalah’s boyfriend came to pick her up. He was a super nice guy who engaged Cole in conversation and clearly had a knack with children. As we left the salon, Cole said goodbye and blew them both a kiss. Two complete strangers. He didn’t know them intimately, but what he saw that day was all he needed to know. They treated him kindly, so he did the same. Simple.
Every day we doubt ourselves as parents. We can’t help it. We try our best and that has to be enough. But as we age and watch our children grow older with us, we dream that the legacy we leave behind is a kind of beauty that will last through generations.
Thank you Cole, for reassuring your Mom that you will pass along that beauty to everyone you meet.