The tired parents were struggling to work the machine at the self-checkout and had tuned out their toddler who was sitting in the grocery cart. He was bursting to help them work the machine. He stood up in his precarious perch so he could see better and he hollered at them to let him help. Then he leaned and stretched to try to touch the machine but he was too far away, and he started to teeter. I was sure he was going to fall to the floor.
I stepped over, reached out, and held the little boy, helping him gain his footing. His parents turned and saw what nearly happened. And like tired parents do, they scolded him, while he ignored them. He was still trying to get at the self-checkout machine.
It has been a long time since I’ve held a child. In that brief contact, I felt that little boy’s energy and a wave flooded over me of memories where I held my own children when they were small. I’d forgotten how powerful the vitality of a small child can be.
What do I want to say here…?
I want to say that I miss holding my children.
Sometimes I missed seeing who they really were.
I also want to say that the story of a child born in utter poverty, who grows up to be the savior of humanity still resonates with me even though I’m an atheist.
Somebody’s children will one day find the cure for cancer. And somebody’s children will be significant ambassadors for peace. And somebody’s children will be teachers, artists, scientists, and healers. And some will be almost anonymous workers who make life possible for their communities.
I think all children have the potential for greatness that can change the world. Sometimes I can almost see that greatness sparkling just beneath the surface of a child.
I held one of those children briefly at the self checkout.