by Ellen M. DuBois
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And it was on one particular day that the child was the teacher, and I the student.
Feeling beat up and worn by the stresses I sometimes let get the best of me, I made my way to my mother's house to take over baby sitting my nine month old niece, Madeline. I arrived feeling like a wound up ball of string; unable to take in a deep, relaxing breath.
Shortly after I arrived, my mother left to go teach and I was alone with Madeline. Remembering my mother said she was a bit fussy, (she's got four teeth coming in at once), I wondered what would keep her happy. The piano struck me as a good idea so I picked her up and carried her into the piano room.
Sitting on my lap, she composed her own 'masterpiece' as I watched in amazement. Babies have an uncanny ability to simply 'know' what to do. I didn't have to show her how to press the keys to create sound. She just knew.
After that, I decided to heat up a bottle for her. My mother said she may want one, so off to the kitchen we went.
In short order, the bottle was warmed enough and I carried her into the living room. Propping a pillow on the corner of the couch, I sat her down against it so she was nestled in safely. Covering her lap with a beautiful hand-made baby blanket, I handed her the bottle and she contentedly began to drink. But, not without a big, beautiful smile at me first. I felt my heart warm as I smiled back.
What do babies watch on television? I wondered. Clicking though the channels, I found "Barney" and saw her eyes light up. Okay, I thought. This must be it!
As the show went on, I watched Madeline watch television. I loved how she responded to the different songs and sights. There were so many expressions on her wee face.
I got so caught up in watching her that I didn't realize I'd grown relaxed and was breathing easier. But, somewhere between "I Love You, You Love Me" and the next song, I found that my shoulders weren't as tight, my head didn't ache and I felt so much better than I had when I'd arrived.
As we sat on the couch, side by side, Madeline finished her bottle. I took it from her and placed it on the coffee table. We continued to watch television; just Madeline and I. I felt her gently snuggle up to my side. I smiled as I looked down at her- her big, blue eyes still mesmerized by the screen. It was a blessed feeling to know that this wonderful child, my niece, just wanted to lean against me. It truly warmed my heart.
When the show was over, she looked at me and smiled. I smiled back and made those 'baby sounds' you make when playing with a child. She let out the biggest 'belly laugh' that I'd ever heard a baby make! That alone made me laugh- and it was a real laugh. The more she laughed, the more I did and it didn't take long before she and I were simply laughing away!
My focus was completely on laughing, smiling, playing and just enjoying the moment. Oh did we have fun!
My mother arrived to find us both on the couch, laughing and relaxing. After changing Madeline's diaper and getting her settled again, it was time for me to go home.
I kissed them both good-bye, headed for my car and began the short drive to my house.
It was during that drive that my eyes began to water. I felt, for the first time in my life, WHAT Christ meant when he said that we should see through the eyes of a child. It was like a light-bulb went off in my head and I finally understood the power of that statement.
Through Madeline, I saw through the eyes of a child. Those eyes, I surmised, see things like this: Love unconditionally. Trust. Don't judge. Celebrate life! Laugh! Look at all of God's creations around you in wonder. Smile at someone- just because you want to! Don't worry about things that might happen- enjoy the NOW!
The eyes of a child don't have to be 'taught' to see things this way. They just do.
In that short afternoon together, Madeline taught me what took 36 years to forget.
© Ellen M. DuBois
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