Since I was a kid, my eyes have been very sensitive to bright sunlight. I learned to wear sunglasses at a rather young age and as an adult, I continue to wear them. Looking back, I recall a time when my Mom had a really bad headache, and I gave her my sunglasses. Her headache went away. That was proof positive to me that some people are more light sensitive than others, because I know a lot of people who never bother with sunglasses, while others must have them.
Kids are no different, of course, they just have a way of showing it that is a little bit more funny, like the time our family took a trip through Beartooth Pass. It was a beautiful, crisp, sunny day, and we stopped at the top. As you all know, picture taking in sunglasses is not the way to see the face of the subject. Nevertheless, picture taking without the needed sunglasses, is not always easy…nor does it always have the desired outcome. Still, it can be quite funny. I have looked at this picture many times, but never really paid close attention to Amy’s face in it. She, on the other hand, caught it the minute I showed it to her. There she was, face all scrunched up in a serious squint, while Corrie and I managed to keep our eyes open. Her comment to the whole thing was, “It was just too bright, I guess.” And so it was. Looking at the beautiful view with the sun at our backs worked very well, but facing into the bright sunlight for the picture…not so much.
Bob had the same problem when he was a little kid, and his mom was taking a picture of him and his two older sisters, Marlyce and Debbie. While the girls had no easy time of keeping their eyes open, Bob found it to be an impossible task. Nevertheless, he did manage a smile, even with his scrunched up eyes. Really, I think those scrunched up smiles are just a cute as they can be, and it shows that the child is really trying to smile, but some things, like opening your eyes in the bright sunlight, are just impossible. And most of us can totally relate, because it always seems to me that the minute they get the pose right, someone isn’t looking at the camera, or smiling, or their hair is in their face. By the time everyone is ready, your eyes are watering, and your are having trouble seeing anything, because of the bright sunlight that has been shining in your eyes for far too long.
Babies are by far the funniest though, because you can’t convince them to keep looking at you, and they don’t mind letting you know just what they think of you making them look into the bright sunlight. Nevertheless, they will look over at you again, every time you call their name, and then look away immediately. That was Bob’s little sister, Jennifer’s problem in this picture. She tried several times to look at the camera, as is evidenced by the fact that there are several pictures taken at the same time, but she was doomed to fail, or simply close her eyes, because it was just too bright outside that day. It’s funny, when you think about it, that we always try to take pictures where the subject is facing into the sun, but mostly all we get are scrunched up faces. Maybe we should opt for a spot that is just a little less bright. Hmmmmmm!!
Have you ever noticed that when babies are given a toy to play with…it goes directly to their mouth. I know, everyone will tell you that they are learning about textures and such, and that is probably right, but nevertheless, odd. We all did this, of course, but when I think back on that as an adult, I know I would be very grossed out. Oh, I know that we still do stick stuff in our mouths now and then, but it still seems like a really bad habit. Of course, my grand niece, Aleesia was not really planning to eat her sunglasses, and may have even seen other people do that with them, so she thought it was the thing to do, but there have been people who have chewed on their sunglasses to the point of ruining them.
When babies a really little, they use their mouth as part of playing with their toys, and by the time they are done, the toy is a slobbery mess, and needs a bath of its own…yuck. Even when my girls were little, I remember picking up a toy they had been playing with before they fell asleep, only to find it all wet and gross. I’m not squeamish or anything, but I’m not fond of having other people’s saliva all over my hand either…not even my kids. It just felt icky!!
Well, thankfully babies grow up a little, and they quit sticking so much stuff in their mouths. Pretty soon they even get to a point where mostly, it is food that goes into their mouths. Of course, the food isn’t always less messy, but it seems different somehow to see a baby with a food mess on their face than it does a slobbery toy. There isn’t anything more fun than to see a baby on their first birthday, covered with cake, and happy as a clam. After all, these are the messy years, and parents just have to deal with it.
When kids get to the age where they can start to dress themselves, the results can be a pretty funny. Sometimes clothes are on backwards…sometimes inside out…sometimes the colors match…sometimes they don’t. It all seems so foreign to a child, and yet before long they will master the whole idea of getting dressed. It’s funny how as young parents we are so concerned that their clothes be right, so people won’t think we are neglectful, but when we look back on the whole thing…we wonder why we worried so much. It is a natural part of that transition we call growing up. No one expects kids to be perfect at it from the beginning.
Sunglasses and hats are a couple of other items that take a little work to master, and always seem to go on upside down or backward, although these days a hat on backward puts your child right in style. Still, it can be very comical to watch your child doing their best and yet not being very successful at it. Somehow though, the hardest thing for kids to master is getting their shoes on the right feet. It just seems like for the longest time those shoes are always on the wrong feet. Why is that? What makes shoes invariably look right to a child on the wrong foot. I mean, shouldn’t they get it right at least part of the time? But, they don’t. They always put those shoes on the wrong feet. It is amazing…and funny at the same time.
With clothes, hats, and sunglasses, they get it right at least part of the time…but those shoes can be on the wrong feet clear into grade school sometimes. Maybe it’s because shoes, and least little ones sometimes don’t look a lot different, one from another. But putting your shoes on the wrong feet, well…it just feels odd…at least to us, so why doesn’t it feel odd to them? Or maybe it does, but they just don’t exactly know why that is. That’s what makes it so funny, I guess. Here you have a child who has finally mastered the whole idea of getting the clothes on right with very little help. They are so proud of themselves, and then they put on those shoes, and it’s like being back at square one.
Children are like an unopened book. You don’t know what their lives will hold until they live them. You just know that there is so much promise…so much possibility. When they are little you look at them and you can see their whole life laying out in front of them, to do with as they choose. They can go anywhere and be anything they want to, if they put their mind to it.
Kids always seem to have a fascination with sunglasses, and every time I see a child in sunglasses, it reminds me of that song that goes like this, “the future’s so bright, I have to wear shades…” Though the child isn’t even thinking about the future, it makes me realize that at least for that moment in time, their future is bright. Their lives could, and probably will take some twists and turns along the way that we may not particularly like, but most kids turn out alright in the end.
Looking at that child in the sunglasses, trying to get them on right and straight, but ending up with them on upside down instead, you realize that they have so much to learn, and you have so much to teach them. It is a moment that can be very overwhelming. Sometimes, you wish they did come with an instruction manual, but as you travel the road from babyhood to toddler to adolescent to teenager to adult, while the trials are there, you find that you wouldn’t miss this trip for anything. Watching them grow into wonderful personalities that are often very different our own, or even anything we could imagine, is truly amazing.
Watching them go through the struggles of growing up, the mistakes, the heartbreaks, the hurts and pains…well, is not quite so much fun. They have to make their own way, and at first they aren’t very good at some of the things they try, but you have to let them try. You have to let them make their own choices and decisions about things like sports, and other school activities so they can begin to learn how to make those choices and many others.
It may not be fun to watch them go from the child who looks to you to handle their whole world, to the adult over whom you no longer have any true control or say in their world. You want to protect them from all the mistakes they are sure to make, but you can’t. You can only be there when they fall, to pick up the pieces and stand then back up on their feet and send them off to try again…and hopefully to succeed…and to find that the future’s so bright…