I often wonder if parents are aware of the imprint their children leave on our hearts. It’s an unusual thing to meet a child for the first time and be immediately recognized, trusted, invited into a secret bond. They know you as their favourite character, their hero, the doll they sleep beside at night and whisper secrets to. And with that little “in” comes “Anam Cara,” as the Celts call it. A Soul Friend. Within only a few minutes, you are already a trusted confidante. I wonder if our clients understand what a profound privilege it is for us to witness the things that make their child- well, them.
I have seen two year olds covered in cake with hands dug deep into the folds of my dress singing along to songs they don’t know the words to, and they don’t care.
I have seen siblings help and guide their younger versions with the serious gentleness that is built into the DNA of eldest children.
With just a little bit of notice, I have the seen the shy, quiet wallflowers bloom into centre stage storytellers.
When trying to tell a group of children that being a princess isn’t about the gown, or the shoes, or the Fairy Godmother, one child cried out “but you do need a Fairy Godmother, because your real mother died!” with such empathetic enthusiasm that I almost burst into tears on the spot.
I have seen families who have lost a lot. Who have lost too much. And I have been so moved by their Grace and Strength and Compassion that I have had to excuse myself for a few minutes because I didn’t want them to see me crying.
I have seen a lot. Today was like that.
We stood outside on the porch, undercover from the rain. A dozen 4 and 5 year olds stood in front of me in a line, clutching the fairy dust that they held in their hands. I told them that wishes are made of big dreams, and hard work, and sometimes- with a little bit of dreaming- our wishes can come true. I always emphasize that fairies are very smart and they know what wishes are good for us and which ones aren’t, so sometimes they store our wishes for awhile because they have something else planned for us. Then we close our eyes and wish together.
“This is for someone else,” the Birthday Girl said.
“Your wish?” I said, unsure of what she meant.
“Yes,” said she, “this is a wish for people who need food.”
“That’s a really beautiful wish, S.” I said. “There are a lot of people who really need help in the world, and I think it’s lovely you want to share your Birthday wish with them.”
“And homes!” her friend piped up. “Some people don’t have homes either! I’m going to wish for homes.”
And one by one, these tiny souls started to pipe up about toothbrushes, and clothes, and diapers, and all of the things they wanted to wish for.
And I thought of the little girl I made a video for last year who has a terminal diagnosis. I thought of the families at Canuck Place, and of the little girl at Children’s who starts chemo next week. And my heart entered my throat.
Today, a group of children gave their wishes away. As they all blew their dust into the air, the Birthday girl spoke hers aloud, offering it up in a solemn voice.
“I wish that everybody gets exactly what they need.”
I wonder if parents are aware of the imprint their children leave on our hearts.
This is what it’s all about. And I wouldn’t trade those cake stains for the world.