A few weeks ago, I was enjoying the warmth of an early Spring morning on my front porch, saturated in peace and looking up at the sky. For some reason, I very randomly snapped a photo of a cloud formation that struck me as beautiful…maybe to capture the moment. Although I like to document events I find interesting with photos, candid cloud shots is not typically my thing. The other night, I was sifting through my photos and came across this cloud formation again. It still looked so beautiful to me. And then I saw it, vivid and bold, and couldn’t believe I hadn’t noticed the figure before.
What do you see?
I sent the picture to a few of my friends asking what they saw. Spongebob Squarepants, God looking at an elephant, Perry the Platypus, someone praying, people dancing and a child with a backpack were some of the visions my friends saw. Yet when I pointed out what I saw, they too, saw the figure as well.
I see the profile of an angel. A child angel specifically…with wings behind the head, holding a harp or perhaps a bow like Cupid, and legs dangling underneath. A reminder for me to look up, to notice what’s around me and to recognize that life isn’t always what it seems at first glance.
But this is my perspective. This is what I want to see. It’s also what I want you to see and I will try to help you see it. I want you to see it because I feel it is beautiful and I feel we all could use a little more beauty and spontaneous awe. So I share it with you.
Sharing our perspective is also the definition of parenting. When we are parenting our children, we are simply offering to teach them the ideas and values we believe in. We are teaching them our view of the world. We want them to experience bliss and comfort, just as much as we want to protect them from our learned fears and perceptions of angst.
When we teach them what we feel they need to know, we are educating them based on our experiences, our visions and our ideals. If we value honesty, we will teach them that lies taste bitter when they roll out of our mouths. If we value control, we will teach them that a tight grip is the equivalent of safety…even if its not. If we value independence, we will teach them that standing on your own two feet is possible, even if it means scuffing your knees a bit when you inevitably fall.
We will also teach them our perceptions of how we think life treats us. If we feel like victims, we will teach them to blame others. If we feel entitled, we will teach them to push others out of our way. If we feel gratitude, we will teach how giving is actually receiving. If we feel hope, we will teach them that although faith is invisible, it is the most prized possession we own.
Even when we want to offer them the scope of the world, we are limited by what we know and have been exposed to. We teach them our favorite past times in hopes they will share our joy. We teach them the difference between right and wrong the way we view it. We teach them what to fear based on what we were taught to fear by others or by our own experience. We teach them what we see and how we see it. And then ask that they mimic it back to make sure they are learning it well.
When we look around us, we notice that other people’s perspectives are different than our own. They parent based on their values, their experiences and their visions. It will always be different than yours and it will always be different than mine, because our experiences are designed to be different.
Just because I didn’t see Perry the Platypus doesn’t mean that I don’t see humor and that Perry doesn’t rightfully own his place between the clouds. His figure is still there and someone sees it, which make their perspective valuable and true. And if someone points it out to me, I get to see the humor too.
I chose to see an angel because I love angels. But I can also see the child with a backpack, Spongebob and even Micky Mouse if I squint my eyes. If you show me something I wouldn’t normally see, I am taking in your perspective and learning something new. I don’t have to like it or agree with it, but even if I don’t, I still get to learn something I didn’t have the vision to see before. If we all had the same perspective, what would we learn from each other…and really, what would we talk about?
And at the end of the day, don’t we all have similar goals for our children? We want to show them the angel in the sky, the child with a backpack and Perry the Platypus….the Hope, the Practical and the Fun.