Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Smiles and Pink Toes

Yup!  My toes are painted...not just the nails...toes too.  Aren't they beautiful?!?!

Now before you sign me up for lessons at the local beauty school, let me share the story.  My sweet two year old princess has an obsession with everything pink, and when this magenta polish appeared during a evening at my sister's she was all over it.  With her coy little voice she gingerly carried the bottle to me and pleaded, "Mommy, can I do this to your toes?"  That question should have been a dead giveaway to the finished result, but, of course, I replied with an emphatic yes.

She carefully dunked the brush into the bottle over and over, reminding be to "Be still, Mommy!" before applying each pointed stroke.  The glops of excess polish pooled against my skin and I couldn't help but smile as she admired her work.  "All done!  Mommy, they look pretty!"  I thanked her with a squeeze and kiss and quickly distracted her before my fingers were spotted next.

When her daddy saw them the next morning, he asked me if I was bleeding or if I let someone do my nails.  I nodded towards our little bouncing blonde and he called her to his side.  "Did you do Mommy's nails?"  Boisterous nod and a smile big enough to reveal those budding molars.  "They are so pretty, sweetie!"  She beamed.  Her Daddy approved, shared her JOY, and she could not have been happier.

My husband's kind face was red as he held back the laugh just begging to emerge at the hilarious site of my feet.  He was exercising something we recently learned in a parenting class we are participating in: the invaluable act of matching the JOY on our little ones face with our response to them.

He watched his daughter’s expression light up and he met that excitement with equal exuberance.  That effort affirmed her little heart, placing there a tangible marker of her Daddy’s love and approval and preparing it for her Heavenly Father’s touch.

While so often our instinctual responses to our children are completely warranted (gasping at the large frog just whipped out of a pocket, grimacing at the tenderly formed mud pie dripping on clean floors, demanding back the glass flower vase carrying prized bugs just captured for family show-and-tell), they all too frequently steal our children’s JOY, rob them of their excitement, and cast away their innocent desire to please us.  And their faces will tell the story as eyes instantly fall and glee-filled smiles slip into devastated pouts.  My heart aches at the thought of causing anyone of my children to feel this way, but sadly, I know this scene all too well.

Ephesians 4:29 says, “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”

I think we usually apply this verse to our adult relationships…but it could not be more fitting for our children as well.  So let’s build them up with our words, with our expressions, and with a youthful JOY that matches their own.

So moms, grandmas, aunties, and babysitters…let those toes be painted and wear them proudly!  Little hearts are eager…