Beauty of a Child

Gregory - Hobe Sound, Florida
Entered on December 12, 2008
Age Group: 30 - 50
Themes: children
  • Podcasts

    Sign up for our free, weekly podcast of featured essays. You can download recent episodes individually, or subscribe to automatically receive each podcast. Learn more.

  • FAQ

    Frequently asked questions about the This I Believe project, educational opportunities and more...

  • Top Essays USB Drive

    This USB drive contains 100 of the top This I Believe audio broadcasts of the last ten years, plus some favorites from Edward R. Murrow's radio series of the 1950s. It's perfect for personal or classroom use! Click here to learn more.

I believe in the beauty of my children. When I look into the rearview mirror at my daughter, lustrous and shimmering with youth, watching the scenery pass, looking out at the life, I marvel at the gems of her eyes. Here they are again, polished and renewed for the world’s spectacle once more. Where did she come from, this sprite, this silly, moody little whimsy, this island of joy? Through her, I am re-born, I see my future, but also my past – my own beloved childhood of stories and frolics- fades behind me, and I sink like a tired swimmer into a soft and dark abyss.

From my sturdy little son’s body soldiering upward, I hear the creaking of bones and muscles as if sprouting out of dark soil, quivering and turning to face me like a sunflower toward the warmth. He challenges me, dares me, (in the corner of his eyes, needs me) to love him. A David to my Goliath love.

I know that we, the living, are only chimera – twinkling like heat on the asphalt or sparks from a fire. I know that there is no meaning or motive or plan. But this knowing doesn’t seem to lessen the wonder and the thrill of the beauty of being. That thrill, which percolates up through some cosmic umbilicus into my throat, blooms warm into a smile.

In my children I see the ravishing complexity of existence. I was there at their births, pushed into life’s trenches like a terrified private, a conscript covered with blood and bile. I sawed through the thick phone cord of their dependence. I wiped bottoms and noses; pretended to be stoic in the face of infections and injections; resisted heart-wrenching wails for countless seconds; and yet, all of these memories are wisped clean by the delicious fragrance of a child’s hair in the sunshine, the tap of a tiny heart against ones own.

Last night I read a book that I love to my son and daughter before bed. In the angled and amber light of their room, I admired the poetry and art of the book, while my daughter lay on my chest, where she could see the book I held, her head resting on my heart. A few pages before the end, I felt her body get heavier, and although I couldn’t see her face, I knew that she had fallen asleep. My son yawned, leaned over to see his sister’s angelic face in repose, and then looked at me and softly smiled.

I believe in the beauty of a child.