On Saturday I had a lovely catch-up breakfast with a friend where I met her two-and-a-half-year-old daughter. We greeted each other at the café with a simple hug and took our time to find the right table where we would all be comfortable. As adults we found a corner with cushions that supported us best and the little girl asked her mother, ever so gently, if she could have the high chair once another child was finished using it.
The natural love of a child is breathtaking…
As we sat and ate I was in awe of how delicate, tender and simply adorable this little girl opposite me was! She joined in with our giggles, appeared to listen and observe us in our conversation. With support she made her own choices in deciding what food and drink to order, and stopped eating when she knew she had eaten enough. She even used napkins to clean her table down when she was finished.
She was making each and every choice just like any adult could do and I actually felt like I had a little adult sitting with us, although I noticed something different to what I have seen in many adults; her beautiful blue eyes were opened – seemingly as wide and as bright as possible – and her playfulness of giggles and smiles had no limit and no reservation. She looked fully into our eyes when we spoke to her – she was just being herself.
When it was time to leave and in her mother’s arms, we both reached out to touch hands – this little girl wrapping her tiny hand around my finger as her mother and I walked to our cars. She asked for a cuddle from me and then snuggled in to my arms and chest with as much warmth as she could.
My friend and I spoke about the imposition that we can easily place on our children to be affectionate with an adult, just because they are family or because it is expected of them; forgetting the fact that everyone has a right to choose what feels right for them, including our children.
On this day I was feeling particularly gentle and tender within my own body – a feeling I often describe as stillness – with no rush or race, and I was amazed at the exquisite feeling of stillness I felt equally in her.
It was like I had known her forever, although we had only just met. In the past I have experienced that sense of ‘clucky-ness’ when holding another’s child, or I needed them to cuddle me to fill that old belief I held as a woman – that this should come naturally as I often proclaimed that I wanted one of these (a child) of my own! I can see clearly how this would impact any child in our presence as we are imposing the emotional needs of ourselves onto them.
But there was simply none of this: it didn’t matter that she wasn’t my child as the experience of simply holding her with pure equality and grace was nothing short of a miracle. It was an amazing reminder of the pure and loving reflection that our children bring to our lives, and of the natural love of a child that we so easily resonate with. They know how to make choices, to be open and aware, to feel what is right for them, and they naturally know how to be their lovely selves, loving unconditionally when others allow them to just be.
By Cherise Holt, 30, Nurse, Brisbane