Little Tutors

Silliness with My Nephew and Niece. Craig, Allison, Me. February, 2011.
In Loving Memory of Maxine Peebles Downs, June 20, 1918-August 20, 1982.
My grandmother taught me important things. I never considered that she may have learned something from grandmothering me.
Lessons for Lala
The little ones who surround me in this season of life are sweet, sweet fruit. I get to love on them, yet someone else is responsible for them. My grandchildren, nieces, and nephews are blessed with loving, capable parents who manage their vaccination schedules, soccer practices, diet, and discipline. I’m free to focus on the children themselves.
They teach me so much.
We visit my brother and his family. The children’s initial shyness gives way as the evening rolls on, past hesitant greetings, news exchanges and dinner to shared hugs and secrets. Their goodnight hugs remind me that all the postcards in the world won’t substitute for a good game of Sorry
I greet my next-to-youngest grandson after a separation of some weeks: He races down the driveway towards me, arms stretched wide, shrieking, “Lala! Lala!” and I remember that love is a noisy verb. 

Later, he takes my picture with his mommy’s camera. As I smile for the young photographer, he notices that my lower left first incisor sits slightly awry, rather than lining up precisely with its neighboring teeth. 

He processes this information in light of what he’s learned of this world in his four years of life:
“Lala, do you have a loose tooth too?”

I explain, “No, it’s just a little crooked.”

He reaches out, with all confidence, attempting to rock my errant tooth back and forth with one little-man finger. He smiles.

“Nope,” he pronounces, displaying his own one-tooth-missing grin, “It’s not loose.”

He’s not disappointed that his assumption is wrong. Instead, he asks for confirmation of his understanding. He investigates new information and adds it to his growing How The World Works files. Piaget called children “naive scientists,” setting out on empirical investigations of…everything. 

And suddenly I’m convicted, eyes moistening. At what age did I lose this open heart, this willingness to investigate, this eagerness for truth? When did my imperfect understandings become valuable in themselves, such that to be disabused of a mistaken idea feels like a loss?

When did my assumptions harden into truths of my own making, so brittle that correction shatters, instead of reshaping?

25 At that time Jesus said, “I praise You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and intelligent and have revealed them to infants.

Matthew 11:25 (NASB) 


  1. A Joyful Noise

    Innocence is precious and we watch them grow and mature. May God grant them the ability to always love and overlook our crooked teeth.

  2. Or better yet, take those crooked teeth as a sign of renewal 🙂

  3. Diana Trautwein

    This is just lovely, Sheila – thanks so much! In any way that we can discover, it is good to remember what it is to be a child – dependent, inquisitive, trusting, honest. I have to remind myself that my 5 year old self is still in here somewhere – I just need to make it safe for her to emerge. GREAT reminder. Thank you.

  4. Thanks for stopping by, Diana!