He quickly collects his little guys, you know, the tiny little people he must carry everywhere we go. He turns, his long hair matted to the sides of his face, wet from swimming in the pool. He tentatively walks towards the multiple sprinklers shooting water from the ground. And then in an instant, he sits on top of one, water spraying around him, and he smiles a big, accomplished, goofy smile. I too have a huge grin, watching as my son discovers his surroundings while having a great time and I find myself looking around the pool, wondering, “did anyone else just see how awesome my son is?” I spot the random dad across the pool smiling at my son and I sigh in relief – PHEW! Someone else saw his cuteness.
You know, you’ve been there too – Your child eats his first ice cream cone and he has a little ice cream mustache — You think it’s the cutest thing you’ve ever seen in your whole entire life – doesn’t everyone? Or when your infant babbles and flashes a cute, shy smile – doesn’t everyone think she’s amazing? Or when your preschooler orders dinner himself at a restaurant – doesn’t everyone in the vicinity think he’s just the smartest? The scenarios are endless…
At the beach, I found myself in the “laughee” side of the equation. A father was playing with his toddler daughter and she twirled in the sand. He smiled and looked around hoping someone else bore witness to his daughter’s adorable twirling. He caught my eye and saw that I was smiling at his daughter and his face lit up even more. He was relieved someone else saw it and someone else thought his daughter was great.
In that moment, I wondered, as parents, are we constantly looking through rose-colored glasses when it comes to our children? Is it normal that we search for validation that our children are fantastic? Does that feeling ever go away? I doubt it. We spend tons of time as a collective society sharing photos of our children doing “adorable” things on Facebook and Instagram, awaiting LIKES or Smiley Faces like our lives depend on it. And there’s nothing wrong with that… In all of our mind’s – our children are truly the cutest beings to walk the planet – whether anyone else thinks so or not, yet we still feel the need to search for that validation in a crowd, in a restaurant, on social media.
The cycle doesn’t end with being parents of young children. It certainly continues into young adulthood and adulthood as children score the game winning point, graduate high school, get a master degree, get a job, get married, have babies — All of these moments are monumental (but not always to everyone else!) And it continues on with grandparents and great-grandparents too. My mother and my aunt constantly show off pictures of my kids and share stories about their funny happenings. My grandma proudly walks my kids around her office, showing everyone she works with just how great they are (she did this with me and my cousins and my little brother when we were kids too).
It’s in these moments that we can pat ourselves on the back and be proud of our children. And we teach them to be proud of themselves too.
And I wonder, are we truly searching for validation of our kids being outrageous and funny and smart and and and or are we merely hopeful that someone, anyone, will bear witness to the great moments in the lives of our children in hopes that they too can help keep our children young and amazing forever through stories and shared experiences. Thoughts?
So with all of that said, don’t you just think my boys are adorable and amazing and absolutely awesome?! HAHA!