And then there is the earnestness. Like a low-grassed, wildflower strewn, sunny meadow that has hardly been touched by the world. A place that has never heard the bustle of people traffic and car traffic and the churning wheels of the internet. My children's earnestness is sometimes the most real thing I've ever witnessed in my whole thirty years in this old place. It's a bright-eyed honesty that stems from someplace I'd like to return.
Yesterday I put them both in the bike trailer, pulled the seatbelt strap across their chests and buckled helmets on their bobbly heads. I gave them both a graham cracker and as we pulled away from our house, I looked back and they were holding hands. We pedaled through the Eucalyptus trees on campus and I was humbled to know how much they trusted me. Believed that I was taking them someplace nice, that perhaps I made the ribbons of sunlight fall down through the branches and onto the sprouting ground for them. We stopped at the shopping center and got two ice cream cones from McDonalds. We sat in the little court and I heard a mouse jump around in the bushes. We ate our ice cream cones slowly. Thea opening her mouth like a little rabbit and biting into the soft white. The ice cream made a miniature beard every time and every time I wiped it with a stiff napkin. Remy (I picture him like a golden lab) licked and licked until one side of his cone was a long slant of little boy tongue and then he would hand it to me to lick around the edges so it wouldn't drip. At one point he wiped his face, gave his nose a blow and stuffed the napkin in his pocket. Neither of them wished we were any place else doing any other thing. If I wrote a perfectly composed essay on earnestness, I still would not come close to the saturation of moments like this that I am so often privy to. Why does it nearly make me weep? I'm not sure, except I know that I wish and want to be more that way and more than that, I wish and want to keep the world perfect for them.
My mom recently got back in touch with the missionary that came to our house nearly 25 years ago. Turns out she had been working with him for nearly 3 years as he was a doctor on the floor of the hospital where she works, she just hadn't recognized him. She said that she was talking to him and he recounted one of his favorite memories with us: a storm came while we were all inside, lots of rain right at sunset. When the rain cleared, but the streets were still glossy and pink with reflection, a rainbow showed up. I remember, and the once-missionary remembers going outside to the edge of the grass to look up at it. What he does not remember though is that I was in the bathtub and heard their voices outside. I stood up on my tiptoes on the edge of the tub and pulled the window shades to peek out. I remember seeing first these two missionaries who my family loved so much, then my mom and my little brother (I'm told that my dad was away on a business trip, but my memory has placed him there next to my mom too.) When I think of it now, they look like a painting, or a set of dolls on a stage. I remember feeling so happy, like all was well.
It's funny the missionary and I should both remember it 25 years later, it was such a fleeting moment. When I think of my children's earnestness for this world, I think I understand them when I step back into that memory of the rainbow. It seems then that we all have a deep well of honesty and earnestness somewhere not too far inside us to offer this world. I believe it is there that our most important projects, ideas, words and gestures come from. Maybe then, that is why a tender and joyous swell rises in my throat when I see my babies believing that the world is nothing but good places we are going to. I want to both take them there, and let them lead me to where they are surely headed.