She was busted. So. Busted. Right there on the landing was my daughter with the very tip of a broken, orange crayon in hand, kicking her feet behind her. She was casually scribbling on the gray walls. Those carefully selected gray walls whose touch up paint was solidly frozen in the garage were suddenly in desperate need of fresh, unfrozen paint.
My first thought, though, was not of the inevitable scrubbing or the unusable paint. That very first thought was an observational, "Look at that girl's incredible grip!"
I stood still for a moment, observing her focus and natural artistic abilities. It was impressive and not necessarily surprising. Harper is my songbird and dancer. As much as her brother is the ordered engineer and leader, she is our sassy, creative spirit. So I held on. Just for a moment. The walls already needed to be scrubbed. She wasn't in any danger. What was another second of enjoyment before I set the "we don't color on the walls" boundary? Sometimes I delay stepping in - not to be a lazy, overly lenient mother, but because I know there's no going back. Once I lay down the correction, I have to stick to it. Once I step in, a small piece of childhood innocence is forever taken. Sometimes the childhood experience is just as important as growing up.
Eventually, though, I cleared my throat. "Harper? What are you doing?" She looked up in surprise. Then, with a calculation that still blows my mind, she turned on that megawatt smile and let out a giggle that could take the hardest of hearts hostage.
Look out, world. She's out there.
As Harper does, she turned back to the wall and kept coloring. I hadn't said the words. She doesn't outwardly disobey, but Harper does wait for the exact instruction. Oooooh, how she already loves the gray area.
It was not a fight to make her stop. She climbed down the stairs, taking the broken crayon with her. For me, though... It was one of those bittersweet moments. I was proud of her cognitive and artistic strengths. I was sad to see my baby growing up. Mostly? I was excited to imagine what that little soul might someday become.
Moms? Dads? Soak it in. In the stress, frustration, and mess of raising littles, allow yourself to step back and enjoy it. Allow yourself to see the incredible miracle those little, growing babies really are. These little moments have so much to teach us.
If only we let them.