Little things to Love

“As you get older… some of the things you love might not seem so special anymore. Like your Jack-in-a-Box. Maybe you’ll realize it’s just a piece of tin and a stuffed animal. And the older you get, the fewer things you really love. And by the time you get to my age, maybe it’s only one or two things.”

From the movie The Hurt Locker

Saturday was Luke’s birthday party.  His second birthday party.  His first with actual friends, a desire to eat his cupcake, and an attempt to blow out his candles.  Although he seemed stunned with each familiar face that entered our front door (I’m sure in his head was, “Hey, I know you!  You’re that kid from my class!  What the hell are YOU doing here?”), I do believe it was one of the happiest days of his life.  Everyone was there for him.  All of his favorite things were surrounding him.  Music, balloons, Cars plates and napkins, Matchbox car tattoos and stickers, and bubbles.  What more could a two year old boy ask for?

One of my favorite things is watching Luke (or any small child for that matter) gaze in amazement at the simplicities of life.  An airplane flying overhead.  Translucent, yet colorful bubbles float toward them and pop on their noses.  A squirrel scamper across the yard and effortlessly up a tree.  Sand flowing through a sifter at the beach.  Water splash from the tub when their hands slap onto it.  Things you and I don’t notice.  We take for granted.  But our children, they marvel.  They are awestruck and entertained.  How many times can I blow into the party blower and have it hit Luke in the nose with a “Toot!” before he tires of it?  Each time I do it, he laughs as hard as the last and asks for More (or “MAH!” as he says it)!

But it doesn’t last.  The excitement dwindles.  Things become expected.  Forgotten.  Simple.  Even with Hannah I find myself having to work harder to get her to find joy in things.  She even sometimes rolls her eyes at Luke when he stares into the sky at the line left behind by an airplane flying above us and claps. I try to see things through his little eyes.  How incredible it must be to him that there is something so Far away.  So out of his reach.  How one of those ENORMOUS planes he’s seen only on TV could be so high in the sky.  I let him see me sharing this enthusiasm because I want him to feel Right in feeling this way.

Because sadly, these little easy things won’t forever bring him such joy.

I bought a bunch of balloons for Luke’s birthday party.  Bright red and blue ones that I caught him staring at throughout his party.  Watching them bob back and forth, up and down in the wind.  He laughed every time one smacked me in the head as I was setting up the party and the wind caught them the right way.  There is something about balloons with little kids.  The pride they feel in carrying one around.  The envy they feel when someone else has one and they don’t.  The thrill in approaching a balloon salesperson (aka clown) and picking out the one right for them.  The dismay they feel when one escapes their tight grasp.  I actually STILL love balloons.  Their bright colors.  The fact that they symbolize something special going on.  The smiles I get as I carry 30 of them in the wind, through a parking lot and try to stuff them into the back of my car.  You see someone with balloons, you know they are celebrating something.  Balloons are happy.  The way they move and the way they look.

I gave out a balloon to each child as they left the party.  I’m pretty certain they were more excited by their new balloon than the book that I gave out in the goody bag.  Accidentally one of the kids let go of her balloon and all eyes turned upward to watch it float slowly, gracefully into the sky.  There was silence in the crowd as it hesitated and bumped into the branches of the trees blocking its way to freedom.  But after a few starts and stops, it finally stood stark red against the light blue sky.  It floated higher and higher until it was a mere speck, and then it was gone.  All of us watched.  The two year olds.  The five year olds. The parents.  The grandparents.  And no one cried.  Only watched with maybe different levels of, but still, interest and maybe wonder.  I wondered where it would end up.  If others would see it.  How long it would be in the sky.  What conversation it would illicit.

We let a few more balloons go after that one (I know not so great for the environment or the birds) because of the entertainment value.  And each one continued to bring “Ooohs” and “Aaahs” from the young but also older, jaded crowd.  And it made me realize, that yes, as we get older, there are fewer things that impress us and fewer things that easily entertain us, but it’s our own fault.  We need to LOOK for those things to love.  Unearth NEW things that we didn’t even realize we can love.  Recall the things we USED to love and love them again.

Look through our children’s eyes and share THEIR joy… it’s not that hard.  And well worth it.


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37 Comments

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37 responses to “Little things to Love

  1. Nicki

    You are so right, Becca. The amazement only lasts so long. Now I get those sheepish grins but those tend to mean “I want to do something that you may not like.” The “wow! how cool” looks are few and far between once they hit the teens.

    Enjoy!!! And, thank you for sharing. The look on Luke’s little face is priceless.

    • I remember giving my mom those “looks”. I already get them from hannah! I hope to find those things that can bring joy to them for as long as I can!

  2. Those pictures are priceless 🙂 My kids are suckers for balloons too – every time!

  3. Balloons, bubbles, and airplanes are the big three at our house, too. I’ve loved re-experiencing the pure joy of all three of these through my children. (And bugs would be number 4, but I lost my wonder for those looooooong ago.) =>

    • Yes, Luke has a thing for ants. He can watch them for an hour and giggles as they make their way from one ant hill to the next. As long as they aren’t in my house I’m ok!

  4. Have you read this article: Why are you so terribly disappointing? by Mike Morford (http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/g/a/2010/01/29/notes012910.DTL)
    It discusses how jaded and mean we, as Americans, have become (with some liberal bias 😉
    The way you ended your post (fewer and fewer things impress us as we grow older) made me think of it.
    Thank goodness for children reminding us to look up and look closer. And find awe in the world again.

    • I’ll have to check out that article. Sounds interesting! My kids are constantly reminding me to smile and laugh. Thank god… I seem to live in my own little tunnel so often and forget to look up and around at what really matters.

  5. Becca, I adore the photos. They tell a story in themselves. I often find myself in awe of the awe of my baby boy. My baby who turns two today. Wonder and joy fill his face over the littlest things and I’m finally in a place where I feel I can share it with him, as if for the first time. Perhaps it is because he is my youngest (my last?), or perhaps it is because I am just now at a place in my life where I wish time would slow down instead of speeding up.

    • Happy Birthday to your little guy Sarah!! I also feel like some of the joys I share with Luke I’m experiencing for the first time. Since I really don’t remember the first time in my own life and now, I can really appreciate them! I also feel like Luke HELPS me slow down because he can sit and soak things in for so long. It’s a beautiful thing.

    • Happy birthday to your little one, Sarah! As you know, now is the time when they are the most delicious, as they find new ways to express themselves and keep you in awe!

  6. I smiled from ear to ear while reading this. It reminded me of Miss M.’s 2nd birthday. I bought two dozen helium balloons and the kids at the party went wild. Especially Miss M. She loved those balloons so much that she couldn’t even be bothered to open a single present that day.

    • Luke definitely is still enjoying his helium car balloon more than any of his gifts. I wish I would remember that every time I buy him another REAL matchbox car!

  7. IEP is a sucker for a helium balloon as well.

    You know, as adults we may not find the same fascination with simple things that we did as children. But we are every bit as fascinated with our children themselves. I get just as much joy out of watching my son with a balloon as he gets from the balloon. We still love little things. They are just different little things.

    • Yes, it’s true that I get even MORE joy out of watching my kids get thrills out of small things but I wish I could also find my OWN things that still bring me such joy. And actually, not only am I loving watching Luke’s face as he watches an ant wander around in our yard, but I’M also enjoying watching the ant. How amazing those little creatures are… so tiny, yet so strong and determined. I’m loving be amazed at things that without the kids, I’d never even notice.

  8. Ever since having my baby, I’ve retrained my eyes to look at things from her perspective, and I’ve been happier and more content lately, just going back to the joy of little things.

    Love the image of the first escapee balloon and everyone watching it take its flight – they may all be looking at the same thing, but each person is recalling a different memory as it drifts away.

    Great post.

    • Thanks Justine! And thanks for coming by and commenting! It’s such a wonderful thing to get ourselves to notice these little things. and such a shame that without our kids, we’d just go about our lives forgetting to LOOK.

  9. Great picture, especially the last one. And the imagery. Thank you. Happy birthday Luke!

  10. Reading your post reminded me of the short film made in 1956 in France called Le ballon rouge. The Red Balloon. I remember watching it as kid in school and I recently let my kids watch it. What a timeless film. And after reading your blog, watching balloons float away is a past time that never grows old. It is , as you said, through childrens eyes that we see wonderment. Albert Einstein said, “The finest emotion of which we are capable is the mystic emotion. Herein lies the germ of all art and all true science. Anyone to whom this feeling is alien, who is no longer capable of wonderment and lives in a state of fear is a dead man.”

    • I know that book well Joely. My mom actually owned a children’s clothing store my entire youth called The Red Balloon named after that movie. The afternoon of watching the balloons float away definitely made me think of the movie as well.

      Love the quote. I am always so full of wonder and just don’t understand those who never “wonder” about things (little and big). So this quote makes sense to me!

  11. I love that someone captured you all looking up at those balloons. The candid moments when you’re not (as) aware that someone is taking your picture reveals so much. The variety of expressions on the faces is so great!

    And you fit 30 inflated balloons into your car?!? Very impressed over here.

    • Yes, my dad did a great job with these pictures! I keep looking back at them and loving every one of them.

      Yup, 30 balloons. I couldn’t see a thing!

  12. I sometimes get pangs of envy when I read your blog.

    That big smile on your son’s face matches yours.

    Funny thing about boys, I think the little things still amuse them as they grow-up. I’m not sure boys really ever grow-up completely.

    Last week my almost 17-year-old told me he was feeling sad. I had a thought. I wanted to go to the store and fill his room with balloons. I didn’t do it. Now I wish I had. Happy Birthday to your sweet, sweet son. My baby turns 17 on Monday! WOW.

    In response to your post yesterday, I feel like you about community and wanting to have more friends. Like you, I have always had lots of friends, but at this stage in life, living in the suburbs of San Francisco, raising my boys, I have found it difficult to really connect.

    But, when I read your posts, I feel connected.
    And that makes me happy.

    • Oh, I hope Luke never grows up! 🙂 How cute that would have been if you filled his room up with balloons. Next time… you should do it!

      And I feel connected here too. As lonely as I might get “at home”, I come here, and I feel a part of something. And understood. Thank you for that!

  13. Gosh… this post made my very teary-eyed… it’s so very true, too. I loved reading this, thank you for writing this, and also? Happy 2nd Birthday to your lovely son! xo

  14. That last photo, especially, is just beautiful – especially the birthday boy and his mama. And you’ve done such a wonderful job here of capturing the way that little kids are mindful in everything they do. When they’re looking at that balloon – or that airplane line across the sky – their focus is absolutely singular. Oh, to be able to harness some of that – as, it seems, you did in that final photo! Thanks, Becca, for sharing this luminescent memory.

    • Yes, our kids certainly live in the moment don’t they? Talk about being “present”! Maybe I should stop complaining about the amount of time I have to spend with my kids… it really actually is helping me to look around and appreciate all of the little things in life.

  15. Becca, your post makes me want to stop at the store on the way home and buys balloons! Thank you for making me smile today. I really enjoyed your descriptions of the amazement that young children find in this overly hectic world.

    • You should buy some! I still have a bunch of them bopping around in my kitchen and as annoying as they can be when I find one dangling in my hair, they are super cheery too!

  16. Beautiful post, beautiful photos. I know I also would’ve been standing with eyes upcast in wonder.

    Sadly, my daughter would’ve been devastated. One of her birthday balloons got loose and rose to the heavens as she sobbed down on the ground. Could the world be divided into balloon-wonder and balloon-tears?

    • I was SHOCKED that some of the kids weren’t sad about the balloons flying away. I think it just looked so magical to see them floating into the sky that they got over it pretty quickly!

  17. Happy birthday to Luke!

    I, like you, adore balloons. I do not feel guilty buying one for Emily when we are at the store. There really is something about them and how they remind me of celebrations and times of unadulterated joy.

    I think that is why having children has reminded me to celebrate the little moments. I don’t always do that so well, but I am trying. I hope they don’t become jaded too quickly, I’m afraid I did.

    • Amber, I think it’s up to us to get them to continue to appreciate the little things. The “things” will change as they grow older but there should ALWAYS be things around us that we find magical. For me, it’s the clouds. I can never get enough of lying on my back in the grass and watching the clouds float by. I get lost in their beauty and mystique. Same with the stars. If my kids see me loving this so much, maybe they’ll learn to not pass by these simple things quite so easily.

  18. I agree, the pictures and post tell a beautiful story. Your post actually made me think of my oldest son’s second birthday party.

    I was pregnant with my second son, and my father had passed away three months before Matt turned two. As we were getting the park shelter ready, I inadvertantly let a helium balloon loose and Matt started to cry. In a quick second, I told him that the balloon was on it’s way to heaven, so that his grandfather would know where in the park his party was at. The tears stopped, and he just beamed after that.

    After that, on each birthday, or anniversary of getting to heaven for his grandfather and great grandparents (that he actually got to share with until just last year, how cool is that?), we always buy a balloon for each of the boys, and let it go, wishing them a happy birthday.

    Thank you for reminding me of such a special day with my so big boy!

    • Oh Maria what a wonderfully sweet tradition to have. I love that. As sad as the anniversary of your dad’s passing must be, this is such a special way to remember him. I have tears in my eyes. Thank you for sharing.

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