Children bring so many things to our lives. Devoted, unconditional love, chubby hands placed gently on cheeks, sweet breath kisses, unending admiration for all that you do and are.
They also bring unrelenting honesty. This can be a good thing and a bad thing, and sometimes at the same time.
Two examples pop to mind.
Several months ago, Secondo and I were in my bedroom. She was cavorting on our bed, distractedly watching whatever PBS show was on, and paying some attention to me getting ready.
I was busy treating the process of getting ready as an episode of Extreme Wardrobe Selection, with intense clothing demolition, salvage and various attempts at guerrilla accessorizing. I was stripping off clothes like I was in the dressing room at Gap and diving through my closet in my unmentionables, when Secondo suddenly exclaimed between giggles:
“Mommy, that’s so funny!”
“What, my darling?” I answered, about to wrestle myself into a flattering pair of leggings.
“When you walk, your bottom is all jiggly!” she said, laughing heartily.
That stopped my prancing. “Secondo!” I said, shocked, turning to face her.
As adults we are conditioned to respond to comments insensitive to our emotions with fiery retort. But as I turned, Secondo’s face with all smiles, lit up by her unconditional love and adoration of me. She threw her arms open to hug me, still giggling.
Her comment, despite dealing a blow to my vanity, to her was a simple realization enveloped in her admiration for her Mommy, wiggly tush and all. And that was the real stunner – her acceptance and love wrapped up in her scrutiny of my derrière.
The second example of this was aimed at Mr. Bailey. It’s essential for this case to know Mr. Bailey is a physical cross between Jimmy Stewart (height) and Steve Young (build).
There we were walking through the throngs of tourists on Pier 39 inSan Francisco. Late afternoon, wind whipping as it does off of the Bay, bodies pushing along to the beat of a street musician’s bongo drums, Prima and I got separated from Mr. Bailey and Secondo (Sisi, as we sometimes call her).
Hanging out by the tour boats, Mr. Bailey soon emerged from the crowds with Sisi and we started out again, towards our hotel.
“Whoa!” Mr. Bailey said as he got within earshot, “That was crazy! This lady on a bike just ran into me!”
Prima, without missing a beat, nonplussed: “Was the biker OK?”
Since he and I were overcome with laughter, I’m not sure if he felt quite the same measure of abject acceptance and love. But I can report that Mr. Bailey, being who he is, shared this story several times throughout the trip.