Yesterday afternoon, the youngest of the three girls I watch ("Princess") wanted to ride her scooter outside. Well, she's not much of a little girl anymore. She's going to be eight in a few months, which sounds so grown up. Still, I feel the need to protect her as much as I still can. So when she started riding away on her scooter, I shouted, "Wait! Come put your helmet on."
Surprisingly, she obeyed me, but she still protested. "I don't like my helmet. It feels funny because the strap tickles my chin."
I said, "Well, it feels better than busting your head open."
She exclaimed, "I WON'T BUST MY HEAD OPEN." This is a promise every child makes, and every child keeps this promise. Until, of course, the child busts his/her head open. There's always a first time. And as Eeyore the donkey said, "Funny things accidents. You never have them till you're having them." There's a reason why that's one of my favorite quotes.
So what was my response to Princess' promise that she wouldn't bust her head open?
"I know you won't bust your head open, because you're going to wear that helmet."
She sighed and rode off on her scooter.
Her oldest sister ("Drama Queen") was inside doing middle school homework (which is too advanced for me to be able to help her with). "The Diva" was at soccer practice. So it was just me and the Princess. I sat on the front steps and watched her ride around the cul-de-sac, taking in the beauty of the afternoon. The sky was so blue, the grass so green. It's days like yesterday that make me realize how much I take the gift of sight for granted. There's a line from a Rich Mullins song, "Here In America," that goes, "There's so much beauty around me, but just two eyes to see. Everywhere I go, I'm looking." This world gets so flashy sometimes, so loud, that I forget to look. I forget to listen. But yesterday afternoon was just one of those times where I took the time to breathe. I took a few moments to just be. And it was good. It was very good.
That's when the real magic happened: a simple, fun, beautiful moment I'll remember for a long time.
Princess rode her scooter around the cul-de-sac, but then she came up to where I was sitting on the front steps of her house. "What happened to your toe?" she asked, referring to the middle toe of my left foot, which is a lovely shade of bluish black due to an ugly bruise I've received while running.
"I bruised it when I was running," I explained. "It's not a big deal."
"Does it hurt?" she asked.
I shook my head. "It doesn't feel like much of anything."
"It's numb," she said, as if announcing a new vocabulary word. I confirmed her word choice as being accurate. She smiled and ventured to touch my toe--something I normally wouldn't allow. I've got germ issues and feet issues (seriously, I don't let ANYONE touch my feet)--but today, for some reason, I just didn't worry about it. She touched my toe and shuddered. "Why are your toes hard?" she asked.
"I have callouses," I explained. "They protect me from getting hurt. I get them on my feet when I run, and I get them on my fingers when I play guitar. Otherwise, my feet would hurt every time I ran and my fingers would hurt every time I tried to play guitar. So callouses can be a good thing, even if they don't look or feel that pretty." It suddenly seemed like I was teaching her a life lesson instead of just explaining why my feet are such a mess.
This seemed to make sense to her. Satisfied with my answer, she rode off on her scooter for another lap around the cul-de-sac. Then she returned to me.
"Do you see our new flowers?" she asked, pointing to some new flowers her parents had gotten for the front yard.
"Yes!" I said. "I like them very much. They're beautiful, and such pretty colors." They were yellow and purple--my two absolute favorite colors for flowers.
"The flowers mom and dad planted earlier are big now, see?" She pointed to some flowering bushes that I hadn't really noticed before...but I think I'll make a point of noticing them from now on. They were lovely.
"Can you make flowers grow?" she asked me.
I shook my head. "I have tried, but whenever I try to grow any kind of plants, they die. I don't have a green thumb."
Her brow furrowed and she started looking at my thumbs.
I laughed and said, "No! That's just what people say when a person is good at growing things. My sister has a green thumb, because she makes so many pretty flowers and yummy vegetables grow, but that doesn't mean her thumbs are really green."
"What color are her thumbs?" she asked.
I held up my thumb. "They're kind of like mine."
"Do you have a green thumb?" she asked, still looking at my thumb.
"No," I said, sadly shaking my head. "I have a black thumb."
She sighed really hard. "No, Ruth. You have a black toe, remember?"
Princess rode off on her scooter. I laughed to myself, just grateful for moments like that one.
Too soon, she wanted to go inside and watch tv, and I had to make dinner. Magic happens in between all the everyday moments. It's so easy to miss them. I'm glad for all the colors of yesterday afternoon--the blue skies and the yellow flowers and the green thumbs and the black toes. I'm grateful for the people in my life, like Princess, who help make every day more colorful.
And even though I've just been given two eyes, I pray that everywhere I go, I'm looking.
"Be praised for all Your tenderness, by these works of Your hands.
Suns that rise and rains that fall to bless and bring to life Your land.
Look down upon this winter wheat, and be glad that You have made
Blue for the sky and the color green that fills these fields with praise." --"The Color Green," Rich Mullins