The people we love the most are often the people who challenge us the most. The manner in which we take care of our children is the manner in which they will eventually take care of us, and themselves.
When our children come into our presence, they should know we love them. This was one of those pearls of wisdom that I heard many years ago that I have never forgotten. The speaker was Toni Morrison, the author, and she added that our faces should light up when we see our children. In addition to our faces, I would add that our voices should light up, also. This is one of the many actions that I began practicing when my children were little, and the fruit that it bears is sweet.
It is never too late to learn or too late to change or too late for anything, until it is just too late.
The too-lateness of a thing really depends on the person. My “too late” and your “too late” are different. So, in putting my actions before my feelings, I began to smile when my children came into my presence.
My eyes brighten, my voice is lighter, I look into their eyes, I nod, I smile, I wink, I blow kisses, I give hugs, squeezes, high-fives and am generally interested in them. I see them. Thankfully.
I could immediately see the difference that my tone made in their behavior. If I was happy, they were happy; if I was mad, they were mad and treated each other poorly. My actions and my voice created an immediate reaction.
Since the age of the cell phone, when they call me or I call them, my tone is welcoming. I try to begin and end a conversation with love. Even when I have to remind them that I really am the head honcho in charge of everything and they had better do or not do the thing, I do it with love. My children are not perfect, and I am not perfect. Love is a choice, and life does not come with a manual.
As adults, we often forget that the children we just had to have are not cooked yet. Their brains are still developing, even though, by outward appearance, we think they ought to know
better. They don’t. We are their first teachers and their most important influences. Even though they may stray, they eventually will come back to the place of comfort, if they have a sense that they can.
Our voices, our homes, our apartments should be the place of peace. As children grow, we should encourage, uplift, chastise, explain, giggle, correct and guide with the realization that this was once you, and that in time they will be you. What kind of “you” you want your children to become depends on what kind of “you” you are.
In these times, when there are so many negative influences that our children are subjected to, I choose to believe that if we love them and they see and hear that we love them — whether we are with them or not — their behavior will show it. As their brains continue to cook, their actions will get better. It will be seen not only by their friends, their family, their teachers, their community — most importantly, it will be felt by them.
And one more pearl: Wisdom is something that we do now, because it will benefit us later.
• Yolande Barial is a Tracy resident and mom. She is among a select group of local residents with columns in the Tracy Press.