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  • Mary Smith

Do your eyes light up?

“Do your eyes light up when they walk into the room?" That is a Toni Morrison quote that I was reminded of yesterday. I had to catch my breath.

I am home with teens and college students during this pandemic. Sure, we can laugh and have fun, we can enjoy the chickens that we acquired as a COVID pastime (now they are family!), and we can see the humor in watching Grey’s Anatomy for a fifth time. But I also realized that in the daily routine, when we are all working in our separate spaces, I can easily slip into logistics and organizing when one of them walks into the room: have you unloaded the dishwasher yet? how’s your homework going? do you think it might make sense to take some time off from your phone?


“Let your face speak what’s in your heart. When they walk in the room my face says I’m glad to see them. It’s just as small as that, you see?” was her advice. There is plenty of time for the mundane, but I want them to know they make me light up. Because they DO make me light up. Period. And she is right – it is just about the face that I pull when I see them. Lighting up is easy when something extraordinary happens, but I want them to know that they light me up even during the routine, the everyday.


She explained, “When my children used to walk in the room when they were little, I looked at them to see if they had buckled their trousers or if their hair was combed or if their socks were up. You think your affection and your deep love is on display because you’re caring for them. It’s not. When they see you, they see the critical face. What’s wrong now?”


It is simple but transformational. What is your inclination when your kids skip (young) or saunter (teen) into the kitchen in the morning? “Hurry up, your zoom class start in 5 minutes?” or “You’re wearing that to school?” or “Don’t forget you have a doctor's appointment today.” Instead, look at them, in the eyes, and give them a smile first.


I did it today; it makes me feel better too.