At the library today Athena approached a four or five year old girl who was playing kid games on one of the computers. Athena had just surveyed all the stuffed animals in the library and had not found a single Elmo, so she was talking about it. She was asking the little girl, "Es Elmo?" (Where's Elmo) and then pointing at the girl's screen- a shapes matching game- "ooh! sat?" (Ooh what's that?) For the first time the girl turned from her game and said to Athena, "Will you go away?" then went back to her game. That didn't mean a thing to Athena. I half redirected her to an older girl who was cordial enough to say hi, but Athena found herself back at the younger girl's desk. The girl took off her fat headphones, looked up at me, and said, "Will you take her away? I don't want to listen to her boss me around." Without hearing my response she put her fat headphones back on and returned to her game.
Surprised and annoyed I took Athena's tiny hand in mine and led her to some book shelves. Wow.
In times past I watched a four year old shake a 12-month old Athena's hand off his shirt when she used him as a climbing/steadying rail. He was pretty annoyed with her. In another instance Athena ran down the driveway toward the two neighbor kids (who always stare at me and ask me never-ending questions - all of which have obvious answers.) She ran toward them in sheer delight; "hi! hi! hi!" she said ecstatically. As I watched her, new at walking, I hoped she wouldn't face plant on the cement. Athena looked up at the four year old girl, eyes shining for finding a new friend. The girl eyed her with a shrug and said, "I don't like babies much."
And I suppose it's normal four year old behavior. I suppose Athena will be the same way. Who knows? I'm new at this every step of the way. For now- I'm glad she doesn't understand all the rejection. I know mothers protect their children with their lives. All their heart, thoughts, love, and identity are tied into their children. Yet those very children we protect and direct- those same kids we invest all our worries, concerns and heart into - are tough! They are walking around - loved in unspeakable ways, worried for in unmeasurable amounts, and they have no clue! And the carefree kid world they live in is far different than the world adults see. I look at her innocence and I foresee it being incredibly difficult for me to send her out into a world that doesn't value her the way I do. But she will be fine, because even she doesn't understand that very value I hold for her, despite the fact that she's surrounded by it every minute of every day. That raw emotion that adults understand; the sweetest of the sweet and the bitterest of the bitter, children are protected from in a lair of unawareness. And it makes me wonder what other emotions are 'out there' that I haven't felt yet. Some emotions I hope never to experience the depth of. But it's undeniable how those emotions change our rationale and our 'person.' I see God as the ultimate parent and imagine myself as the child often. It puts life in perspective: I am four years old.