You look over and ask your son why he’s saving water from the bath and he tells you, “Because I want to save the memory of what a great time we’re having.” You’re walking in the park with your daughter and she runs up and grabs the outstretched hand of a statue and introduces herself and asks if they want to be friends. You read that apocryphal story of the twin siblings, one of whom is very sick in the hospital. The doctor tells the other that their sibling will need a blood transfusion, and after giving the blood, the young child sits up and says, “So when will I die?”
These are the moments that hit you in the solar plexus. You can’t seek them out. You can’t ask for them on demand. But they’re there. Goodness. Innocence. Joy. Courage. Selflessness. They knock the hot air out of you and lift you up at the same time.
We’ve talked before about helping our kids “carry the fire.” These moments—they are the fire. They are what every kid brings into the world. But the flame is delicate. It’s easily extinguished. It doesn’t always make it to adulthood. Sometimes it burns out. Other times, sadly, it’s snuffed out by well-meaning enough parents who are busy, or jaded, or simply have the wrong priorities.
Nothing—nothing—is more important than protecting this flame. Grades, college, job skills, all of that pales in comparison to whether you’re keeping this goodness alive. Whether you’re letting them know that you see it and love it, that you are there to nurture it and help them channel it into opportunities to be great, to be happy, to be themselves.
Your kids were born with a light in their eyes. Your job is to keep it alive and increase its candle power however you can.