Joy, Snips And Snails, Sometimes Sweet

The Strawberry

Somewhere along the way, in the bumpy course of my life, my eyes had become crusted over with the cynical smog and gunk and goo of the world. Bad news for an artist. I had just stopped seeing the exquisite surprises that God puts in my path every day. And I didn’t even realize it. Until Sean came along.

Having a little boy to point out the spot of bright red in a sepia colored world has been a marvelous and soul-healing thing. Sean has opened the eyes of my heart to see the wonder of the world again through his eyes and this, for me, has been the gift of parenthood.

Not too long ago, we had breakfast at IHOP and if ever there is a place where the world gathers up her cynicism, it’s at IHOP. We always seem to get some world worn waitress named Blanche who is all business but calls everyone honey. Blanche is probably 53 but looks 73 from smoking three packs a day and having worked at IHOP since she was 16.

As Blanche sets down the plate of pancakes before us, Sean shrieks with delight, “Oh Mommy! A strawberry!” he gasps. “Look! She brought us a strawberry!” And then he looks up at Blanche and gives her a smile that would light up the dark side of the moon.

 But Blanche doesn’t take notice. “Anything else honey?” she asks instead. Sean claps his hands together with glee and laughs his own funny little staccato laugh over the sight of such a rare and unusal thing. He picks it off the side of the plate and examines it.

Powdered sugar snows down on everything between the plate and his shirt. He holds it to his button nose and inhales deeply leaving a dusting of white behind. He feels of its bumpy texture. He offers me a sniff by shoving it firmly up my nose. Then he looks at me and smiles. A strawberry! Tiny white teeth and dimples punctuate the moment — those dimples that daily prick the tender underside of my crusty, cynical heart. It is so hard to be crusty and cynical when there are dimples.

I look at him as he licks what’s left of the the powdered sugar off the strawberry. I think of his happy little heart, still pure and unstained by the world, a world which cannot, will not, be distracted away from it’s cynicism long enough to appreciate the beauty of a single strawberry on a plate of pancakes.

In that moment, the strawberry and the boy are so blindingly and shockingly and painfully beautiful that it makes my eyes hurt. And I want to eat them both up.

This boy, he has opened the eyes of my heart.

43 thoughts on “The Strawberry

  1. Told my mother-in-law tonight that I didn’t realize it could hurt so much (and feel so wonderful) to have a small chunk of my heart living in the body of a 16 month old boy. I know so much more good is to come!

    Thanks for the glimpse into the future!

  2. Sweet! I found you by way of Chilihead and Shannon at Rocks. I’m a semi-antique mommy myself; 40 with a three y.o. and a 17 month old. I’m enjoying your blog and will visit often!

  3. Oh my, you are so gifted. I literally cried — I remember when mine were so little and innocent.

    Your incredible talent with writing evokes such memories…

    Thank you.

  4. Beautiful…and how awesome that some day your son will be able to read this and know that he brought such joy and light to your life. That’s an amazing gift!

  5. Precisely why the good Lord says the way to heaven is to be like a child — shouldn’t we all be so gleeful at the sight of a strawberry? Thank you for sharing!

    I think it’s in IHOP’s creed to only hire the Blanches of the world. Blanche and her sistas need employment too, I guess.

  6. Ah, that was lovely, AM. It was such a departure from the laugh-out-loud I usually get at your blog. Tonight, it was like a drink of cool water.

  7. Aw, that was a beautiful post. I had goose-bumps all the way up my arm by the end. (Mind you I’ve no idea what IHOP means. It sounds like a dance created by Apple)

  8. You be sure and come down to Arlington and take that little boy strawberry picking ok ? I think the place is called Neisner or Gneisner Farms and they have a GREAT strawberry patch that is open starting in March every year. This big brusque older gentlemen farmer will hand you a basket, explain how it works and let you loose. WAY fun for a little strawberry lover.

  9. Aren’t children wonderful to be able to point out the litle things in life that are so beautiful but that we, as adults, no longer take notice of, in our cynical way of viewing the world? Excellent post!!

  10. This is absolutely beautiful writing. You managed to seat us right next to you and share this intimate view of your beautiful boy. Thank you for the blessing!

  11. That was so beautiful! Our IHOP visits don’t go quite like that, we terrify the staff and old people all around us when we walk in with a large amount of tiny creatures they are sure will throw food and scream and run all over knocking glasses over and such! But we always surprsise them all, and many people come over and tell us how wonderful our kids are.

  12. This post? It reminds me of a story from our little Golden Books when I was young about a little peasant boy who was blind. He raises the perfect strawberry for the birthday of a princess. He senses the beauty of the strawberry…in and of itself a simple thing. And because he gives it with such love, the princess sees it too.

    Your story made me ache. I know what it is like to have someone be indifferent (or blind) to that which makes my child happy. Small people can be good teachers, can’t they?

  13. I love how God opens our eyes to the wonders that still exists though we forget, especially when he does it through our children.

    As usual, this post is strikingly beautiful and incredibly close to home.

  14. Absolutely true! Every time my children start giggling and laughing so hard they can’t talk, I wonder what I have done to deserve such a blessing as to be the caretaker of those laughs. Thanks for the reminder!

    Rachel Langston

  15. International House of Pancakes! Who knew it could inspire such joy and poetry! Oh Blanche, I wish you could see it too.

  16. Fantastic post and I couldn’t agree with you more. Being a parent, especially of little ones, colors your world with such vividness and joy! Snuggle Bug does this for us too and I treasure every moment. Why do you think I named my blog “Overwhelmed With Joy”?! 🙂

  17. We sing a chorus in church that has the line “Open the eyes of my heart Lord”. I think He has given that gift to you and wrapped it in the precious package of your son. What a beautiful, wonderful post.

  18. Something like this happened not long ago at our house with a heart-shaped potato chip. Fortunately my son didn’t ram it up my nose to smell, but he did take a moment to point out its beauty. A love chip. I took a moment to appreciate the love chip, too, because after 12 years of parenting four children, I *finally* learned that my own heart needs to become like a child’s…might as well let my child do the honors of leading me in that direction.

  19. OH that is wonderfully written, and true. I too have forgotten those small things and my Little King i s just a little young to point out so many but you can see the interest sparking in his eyes at things I don’t think about…

  20. I’m an older mom too, with kids 10, 7, and 2 (born just before I turned 40). My two-year-old takes us all outside of ourselves. Thanks for such a lovely post!

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