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“Do you see me?”

October 21, 2010

Walking the dog, long overdue.   Him zigzagging, sniffing, checking for changes on our path or the scent of some other “four-legger” and human who thought this route belonged to them.   I was not that purposeful.   In fact I was avoiding anything more taxing than the vague awareness that my feet were moving me forward.

“Nice dog!”.  The voice came out of the air above me.   I stopped, looked up, saw nothing but sky and the tree I had just walked under.   I spoke a “Thank you” back into the air, took a few steps and heard, “I’m up here!”.   Of course I had to go back for another, more purposeful look.   “Do you see me?”  This time I strained to see something other than leaves and limbs in the tree above me.  Still nothing but the voice giving me another hint, “I’m way up high!”.  Obviously it would not be okay with either of us for me to move on until I had spotted the body that contained this persistent voice.

Finally I saw the boy way up in the tree, camouflaged by leaves.  “You are way up there”, I said.  I made myself not say, “I hope you don’t fall!”.   I guess I didn’t want to turn his proud moment into the Red Ryder BB gun warnings given to Ralphie in Christmas Story.

I said “Goodbye,” and continued my walk.   After placating my “mother voice” in my head with a few repetitions of “I hope he doesn’t fall.”, I began to think about the other “meanings” of this exchange.   Without a doubt this boy wanted to connect.   He wanted to be heard and seen, and he was going to persist until he succeeded.   The wild card in his plan was me.   I had to choose to keep looking for him.  I had to be willing to hear the clues that would guide me to him.

Thankfully I persisted.  After all I had nothing “better”, more pressing to do.   But what if I had been in a hurry or had important business to tend to?   I would have missed the opportunity in that moment to be the grownup who accepted the invitation from a child to connect.  That would have been my loss as well as his.

More on “seeing” children in the next GrowthLines post…

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