How Children See Us

 

Several days ago, my six year daughter Christina proudly showed me a drawing she had just completed.  She used an electronic drawing pad, similar, I thought, to my old Etch-A-Sketch.  I’m old…I know.  In a refrain heard by parents all over the world, Chrissy proudly exclaimed in her outdoor voice: “Daddy, look what I drew!”  She then shoved the electronic drawing doo-hickey in front of me.  What I saw on the pad immediately filled me with an exhilarating mix of pride, awe and laughter….

What struck me first was the unusually round and bald head, followed by some rather large glasses, and a dark mass under the chin that looked part goatee/part bow tie.  What caused my unusual emotional reaction was the realization that the character was me!  There I was, rather remarkably and accurately depicted, in box-man form.  Really…it was uncanny how much he LOOKED like me.  I immediately smiled, yelled out: “Wow!  That’s me!” and gave Chrissy a big, old bear hug and kiss, followed by a high five.  My six year old just stood there, beaming, looking back and forth between Daddy and his doppelganger.  Yep…she got me just right….

Of course, being the proud Poppa that I am, I took a picture of my twin and posted him on my social media pages.  At first, everyone commented on how cute the picture was, but then something interesting occurred.  People started noticing not just how much he looked like me, but they made note of how he was drawn.

I have to admit, I didn’t really think about that at first.  So I looked at the picture again.  And yes, sure enough, Daddy Doppelganger looks just as they described him.  He has a huge, friendly and warm smile.  He stands tall and erect.  He is clearly a proud man.  His most prominent feature is a large, dark mass under his chin.  My first instinct was to identify it as a bow tie – based on my self-perception.  But then I remembered, Chrissy always comments on, plays with, and scratches my goatee.  She’s fascinated by it.  To her – my goatee is most prominent – because it represents “Daddy.”  The goatee is me….

Lastly, I noticed the wide open arms, held in perfect position to give her the hug that she knew was surely coming.  Like looking at the picture of the young/old woman that constantly shifts one’s perception, I no longer saw Daddy Doppelganger, but I saw “Daddy,” which is her word for me.  And Daddy was saying: “I love you, I’m here for you, and you’ll always have my smile, a warm hug, and my protection.”

I was floored.  I can not think of a more poignant way to remind me of my responsibility to demonstrate to her what a man is, and what he should represent to her.  Comfort.  Love.  Protection.  Warmth.  Like the sweet, cherry-scented smoke from Grandpa’s pipe that forever wafts through my mind, my goatee, smile and open arms are forever nestled in hers.

FLOORED.

That is how my child sees me.  How do your children see you?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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1 Response to "How Children See Us"

  • nedra says:

    Many years ago when daughter Katherine, now a grown woman, was a child, she was asked to assign an animal to herself and each of her family members that described each of us.

    Nigel was easy, a monkey

    Dad, a Teddy Bear

    Kate, bird

    Me-Mom, a wolf

    I embraced this child way of seeing me. I love being a wolf. A beautiful animal that cares for her young. Yes, that’s me. Kate got it right!

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