This I Believe

Vera - Flagstaff, Arizona
Entered on October 13, 2008

Operation Mississippi Sunshine

I believe that children are secret agents of the Divine, sent to us under the false pretense of parenthood, to remind us how to view the world with an open mind, and a sense of fun. Newly born, Alex arrived in the year, 2001, fifteen minutes before Halloween. His mission: Operation Mississippi Sunshine.

Contrary to what one might assume, the name Mississippi Sunshine had little relevance to the state or to the weather. One day recently, I told Alex to pick up his toys and he replied “Okay, Mississippi Sunshine.” Surprised, I asked him why he called me that. Without missing a beat, he calmly said that he was just thinking about Mississippi, even though our family had no connection to the river or the state. That’s when I knew. Mississippi Sunshine was his secret agent code name for me, mom. I was his mission.

I should have suspected something when Alex learned his first word from our temperamental pet cat, Cappy. The cat had never spoken to me, but apparently, Alex and Cappy conversed privately on a regular basis. Alex clued me in one day when I made him stop touching something breakable. Out of frustration he turned toward me, his hands against his chest with all of his fingers stiff and his nails extended toward me, and said “HAAAAAAAAAAAAAA.” Most kids learn the word “no,” but Alex could already speak a foreign language, cat. He spoke it often.

After Alex taught me that cats can speak to humans, he moved on to my next great lesson in parenting which was to be careful what I do because he will watch, and do it too. On a typical cleaning day, I wanted to vacuum some of the cat smell out of the carpet by first sprinkling an odor removing powder around the room. Two-year-old Alex loved when I vacuumed. As usual, when I switched on the vacuum, he ran around the house screaming like we were celebrating the New Year. The next day, Alex decided to clean the carpet again. I walked into the living room to discover that he had removed a jumbo-size container of powdered parmesan cheese from the refrigerator door and was in the process of sprinkling it all over the carpet. Instead of being angry, I had to be impressed at how brilliantly Alex mimicked my actions, even though he had used the wrong product. Was it his fault that the cat didn’t also teach him how to read a label? At least the carpet no longer smelled like cat.

I know that there was no Operation Mississippi Sunshine in his reality, but I have adopted the idea as part of my mission as a parent. His original use of the random thought of Mississippi reminds me that it’s okay to have fun, play and be creative without having to make sense. I believe that Sunshine is the light that all children, shine on this world with their curiosity. That light can reveal our sense of wonder, but only if we are willing to join the operation. I decided that if Alex can be an expression of the Divine on earth, which I believe that he is, then I will proudly be his Mississippi Sunshine.