The other day, my daughter had a friend over to play after school. After they’d finished their snacks, ran around the back yard, and trashed the playroom, they settled in at the kitchen table for some quiet time over a jumbo coloring book.
The picture they selected to color depicted two couples, dressed to the nines and apparently dancing, at a ball or maybe even a prom or some other fantastic affair. The girls negotiated the details about the color scheme and got down to business.
Soon, my daughter posed a question to her friend:
“Which boy do you think is the most handsome?”
“That one,” her friend replied, pointing out the dude with the Ken-coif and the over-sized carnation boutonniere.
“And which girl is the prettiest?” my daughter continued.
Her friend pointed to the girl in the other couple, the one with the Catherine Zeta Jones hair and billowing skirt, gazing wistfully at her presumed Prince Charming. There she was, dancing away with her partner, the non-hottie.
“Well,” said the daughter matter-of-factly, “that girl should be with that boy.” She had broken up and then repaired the couples.
Maybe it was the fact that the honey with the black hair had a flower tucked behind her ear that perfectly matched the one in hottie’s lapel. Maybe it’s an early form of natural selection; survival of the prettiest. But in one fail swoop, Daughter had rearranged the couples—literally cutting them apart—based on appearance.
Who knows where this notion of “birds of a feather, flock together” comes from at six years of age. Sure, the Husband and I have always told our children they are beautiful and lovely little people. There are some who believe you shouldn’t tell kids they are attractive so as not to give them big heads. I think that’s stupid and can’t help myself. I’m not over-the-top about it and not about to enter my kid in any pageants, but I don’t want my kids to have any doubt about where I stand when it comes to their appearance.
Every parent thinks their kids are the most beautiful and gorgeous beings on the planet. It’s as natural as breathing. (Right?)
But all children are beautiful. Children have a beauty of innocence and wonder—even if they don’t have the aesthetic characteristics for what you might find attractive. But that’s what makes the planet an interesting place to live, and what ensures there’s someone for everyone. We each hold a different sense of beauty and attraction, thus keeping the species alive, (or at least getting it on, should you be a non-breeder.)
Beauty of action is important, too. I’ve encouraged my children to keep three piggy banks, each with a separate meaning: save a little, spend a little and give a little away. The concept is lost on the three-year-old, but my daughter decided that the “give a little away” funds would go to the animal shelter so they could have more money to feed their dogs.
I try to tell my kids when I think they are behaving beautifully, too. Like right now, the Daughter and Son are playing so nicely together. She’s reading aloud to him using her sweet, gentle big-sister voice and quizzing him on the story’s concepts. He’s actually sitting quietly and listening, asking an occasional question. Sure, this is likely to last another forty-two seconds, until someone decides to do a Kamikaze dive off the sofa onto a bean bag chair.
But until then, I’ll bask in the domestic peacefulness of my children enjoying each other’s company.
Now that’s beautiful.
Where did you find beauty today?