Tuesday, July 30, 2013

The Gift

One by one, my toddler, Claire, handed a brown leaf to each person sitting in the park. She went down the row of benches, like she were royalty greeting her subjects. One by one, I watched as complete strangers took the leaf, as if she were giving them gold.

A moment exists when Claire greets a stranger that I worry how the person will react to her. Some people are busy, they don't like kids, they need their own space. I don't want Claire to feel rejected. It's my projection. People do reject her. She remains undeterred. Today, everyone took a leaf, so my worries were for naught. They often are.

Claire goes into every situation like it is new. She has no expectations of the other person, no preconceived notion of how her actions will be received. Today, she wanted to give out some leaves.

I want to be more like her. I wonder if I ever was. Was I always too shy to hand out leaves when I was little? Or did I become self-conscious somewhere along the way? I have a feeling it was the latter.



Watching Claire, I see the wisdom of reaching out to people. The group of strangers seemed insurmountably unapproachable to me at first, oblivious to their surroundings and lost in a smart phone or somewhere in thought.
child's hand

Yet, Claire broke through the haze with a simple gesture. When she did, it was like the weight of their own preoccupations had been lifted from them. They took her offering of simple beauty. They greeted her with a smile or a few words to match her generosity.

We don't take the opportunity to look each other in the eyes enough. Children do. We immediately become more present and alive. I saw each person look in Claire's eyes and be transformed.

Each leaf held so much; it symbolized more than the leaf itself. Each leaf was Claire's generous offering of simple beauty. It was her innocent belief that leaves are like gold, and that people would receive her gift. It was the willingness of people to go along with her on her flight of fancy about gold leaves. It was a revelation given to me by my daughter. But most of all, each leaf was a catalyst for connection between two people.

I want to be like more like my daughter. Don't you? Today, I'd like to try an experiment: I am handing you a leaf. You shall decide how you receive it.

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Photo Source: Lisa L Wiedmeier, WANA Commons, Flickr, this image has been altered, which does not suggests that the licenser endorses this blog, me or its use. License

62 comments:

  1. What a beautiful story!!! I love this!!!! What a sweetie!!

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    1. She is a sweetie, but, then again, I'm biased!

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  2. Oh totally would take a leaf and really do learn so much from our kids, don't we!! :)

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  3. Oh Rachel. *TEARS*
    I want to be on the receiving end of Claire's leaf-giving and I also want to travel back and be the one not shy enough to give the leaves (sadly, I am almost positive that I was ALWAYS too shy to be the leaf-giver, although maybe not at Claire's age...certainly by five though and ugh, what happened?).
    This is a beautiful beautiful post, my friend. It reminds me that no matter how absorbed we all get in our phones and our realities that the innocence of a little girl giving a gift is the whole point of everything. Connection is power. And we all should strive to do more of it. Thank you for this.

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    1. Why is it always so hard to remember? That's the million dollar question!

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  4. What a lovely story. I, too, want to be a leaf giver. I strive to be. It's hard to recapture that innocence and openness of childhood, isn't it?

    Great post. :-)

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    1. It's a great thing to strive for. I am going to try harder. I've always been really shy, but Claire is an inspiration!

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  5. Thank you, and your daughter, for the beautiful leaves. I receive them with humble gratitude, respect, and reverence.
    Keep doing what you're doing, Mama, it is working!
    -Peace & light
    BettyRants

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    1. Ah, I like the way you receive them, Betty! Thank you!

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  6. I also marvel at the innocence of childhood. It pains me sometimes to know that he will eventually lose it like I lost mine. I accept your leaf. :)

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    1. I'm trying not to think about it, lately. It's hard not to, but I think it's part of the lesson.

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  7. I also marvel at the innocence of childhood. It pains me sometimes to know that he will eventually lose it like I lost mine. I accept your leaf. :)

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  8. I too wonder what changes in us and when, that we become to afraid to be leaf givers, This story is beautiful, and thank you for the leaf!

    Domesticated Breakdown

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    1. You are welcome, Lacie! I think I have to stop worrying about why it stops, and just start being a leaf giver again!

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  9. I accept your leaf with no expectations. Your leaf was given with no expectations. We are just people sharing a moment of time. We smile and acknowledge each other. We share something that we will never share again. It is a special moment that can not be recreated. It just is! Beautiful story.

    http://agutandabutt.blogspot.com/

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    1. I love this, Betty! You have given me a leaf too! Thank you!

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  10. Replies
    1. You are so very, very welcome, Kerri. I have received many leaves from you, friend. :)

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  11. This really is such a beautiful story. Claire should be an inspiration to us all, you must be so very proud of her.

    Kate x
    Kate at Home

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    1. She is definitely an inspiration to me. And, yes, she makes me proud.

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  12. Thank you for sharing this story, your leaf. I take it with a smile, and TRY to pass one along. I cannot promise to always offer such treasures, but I promise to really TRY. What a beautiful post.

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    1. I love that you are going to try and pass the leaf on. You are the first one to suggest doing so! Great idea!

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  13. A really wonderful way of looking at things Rachel! I would like to think I could do this and hand strangers a leaf (metaphorically of course). I'm pretty sure if I started going around and handing total strangers brown leaves one of them would call the cops.

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    1. Yes...metaphorically! We don't want any arrests now, do we?

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  14. Claire is such a sweet girl and I know that in your own way you are like her ... she learns from you therefore she sees your generosity.

    ¤´¨)
    ¸.•*´
    (¸¤ Lanaya | xoxo
    Raising-Reagan.com

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    1. Lanaya, you are so sweet. I should just shut up and take a compliment, but I can guarantee you that my daughter gets the generosity from my husband. It's one of the first things that attracted me to him. They are teaching me...

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    2. We all are taught by those around us!!

      Thank you for linking to Raising Imperfection.
      Please come back Friday to see if you were featured. :)

      ¤´¨)
      ¸.•*´
      (¸¤ Lanaya | xoxo
      Raising-Reagan.com

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  15. Oh my goodness! What an absolute sweetie!!!! I love the way you look at things!

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    1. Thank you, Melissa. I would love for my daughter to give you a leaf!

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  16. Rachel, this is so beautiful! I just love posts like this where you tell us how your perception has changed through the eyes of your daughter and her actions. Truly lovely!

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    1. I don't know if it's that my perception has changed, Marcia. I have always believed that connecting with people is a good thing, but that has not made it more possible for me to try and do it. Now that I see my daughter, I seem to be more inspired to push myself out of my comfort zone. It remains to be seen whether I can actually do it or not!

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  17. Replies
    1. Aw, angel girl! Thank you for that, Diane!

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  18. I have a special award for you today on my site! Swing by and grab it! <3

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  19. A lovely post! It reminds me of a quote "No matter how big and bad you are, when a two year old hands you a toy phone, you answer it".

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    1. ha, ha! I have never heard that before. That is awesome. I'd be worried if you had said that you hear the other person on the end, though! ;) Thank you for sharing that. I really like it.

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  20. I love how you described this. And good for you for watching her, truly watching her, instead of being sucked in on your own smartphone. Because you're right we have a lot we can learn from our little ones if we pay attention.

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    1. Ha! I am too much of a control freak to not watch her like a hawk! Maybe, when she's older, I'll be on my smartphone! ;)

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  21. Your blog's name sucked me in through the Let's Be Friends hop - you've definitely got a gift for storytelling! Looking forward to reading more :)
    Www.holdingthedistaff.blogspot.com

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  22. Ahhh the fun has begun. Thank you so much for the beautiful leaf. As we grow older, some of us have been so caught up in life we've forgotten how to have fun... dare I say, be a kid at heart.

    You in the process of a rebirth. Rediscovering and reliving childhood. You've been blessed.

    Daniel

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  23. What a lovely story!! I think I was like your daughter for quite some time too... then I grew up! I just love the little wonders of a child. Thanks for sharing. Oh yah... I've been a follower but wanted to say I found your post on Jellibean Journals :)

    Jessica
    The Wondering Brain

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  24. So beautifully written. I love observing my girls interact with the world and discovering new things. Like you, I often wonder when I started or stopped certain behaviors. Watching them in this way has given me such renewed love for the little things. Thanks for sharing and joining the Mommy-Brain mixer.

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  25. Dear Rachel
    I think everything we give to our Pappa God with the innocence, love and complete trust in His love and goodness, is what He values so much! Oh, that we can come to Him like your little Claire, knowing that our gifts to Him are more precious than gold. This is what your sweetheart showed me today!
    Blessings XX
    Mia

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  26. What a lovely post. I remember Grace walking a long a wall once and a lovely lady asked me if it was OK to talk to my daughter!! I told her that it was fine. Isn't it a shame we have to live this way. Your daughter sounds lovely - don't let her change. Thank you for linking to PoCoLo x

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  27. I love this. Violet is so adventurous when it comes to people, I wish I was.

    Thank you for linking up to Raising Imperfection!
    Make sure to check back on Friday to see if you were featured.
    Leslie
    www.violetimperfection.com

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  28. Wow! Look at this outpouring. I have to say.. I took the biggest lesson possible from that conference. And that was, you gotta put yourself out there, you have to get over your road blocks and speak. Be your real self.
    A few days after getting home my husband and I ran into one of his students and mom, the mom's where I live are INTIMIDATING! They are all rail thin, gorgeous blondes, with perfect nails, figures, hair, clothes. Usually while they are chatting I would say hello, then step back. That day, I didn't. I used the confidence I had gained, and I said hello and I participated in the conversation, and when she was self-deprecating and said she would never remember what my husband said, I said "give me your cell # I'll text it to you."!! Me, chubby wall-flower even though I grew-up here and you didn't I let myself feel small next to you. It felt really good. I am trying to ride that wave of confidence, the other day when someone asked me what I did for a living, I said "I'm a writer". Yup, not a stay at home, home-schooling mom. That's what I do, but not what MY passion is. So give out those gold leaves sister! It's empowering and amazing! DO IT!

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  29. awww what a beautiful story. thanks for linking up with #MagicMoments x

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  30. Hola Rachel!
    You've undone yourself! When are you going to write a book? I will be the first in line at your signing! I accept your leaf with gratitude and an open heart and will pay it forward with a serving heart. Claire is a blessing! Thanks for linking-up!

    ~SimplyyMayra :)

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  31. Your daughter has the right idea. I love this.

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  32. awwwww! Children are so precious - such a beautiful story and a profound lesson. We really should all take a leaf out of children's books. They are fearless and kind and so innocent and sweet...what is about growing up that changes us so?


    artographja.com

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  33. What a beautiful post - my 3 year old has been busy handing out poppy seeds to all the neighbours and took a pile of post it notes with her to nursery the other day that she handed out with great pride. I didn't quite work out what they were all about - and I'm not sure anyone else did - but it was so important to her.

    Thanks so much for sharing - Alice @ Mums Make Lists xx

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  34. So touching and poignant, Rachel. I'm featuring you at this week's Clever Chicks Blog Hop. Please come by and grab a Featured button!

    Cheers,
    Kathy Shea Mormino
    The Chicken Chick
    http://www.The-Chicken-Chick.com

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  35. This is a wonderful story. It is amazing how a toddler can open your eyes and show you things that you often take for granted. I love watching my toddler learn but I know that I was given another baby to teach me new things about life. I love how carefree a child is and wish I could be more childlike and not worry about things as much.

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  36. Thank you so much for the leaf and the lesson!

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  37. What a beautiful post, Rachel. Kids have the power to teach us so much about the world, don't they?! Love it. :)
    -Brigid

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  38. such an adorable child and such a sweet gesture! your post literally brightened my day!

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