Look Me in the Eye

We’re together all the time.  Okay, we’re apart for 24 hours on the weekend and 15 or so one night on the week, but otherwise we’re together quite a bit.  One of the best parts of homeschooling is time with my kids.  One of the hardest parts is all that time with my kids.  The good in that time trumps hard times, hands down.  But I’m with my boys so much that sometimes I forget to look at them.

You know what I mean.  How often do you really look at your spouse, your kids, your cat?   Familiarity breeds, well, familiarity.  Why look closely when you’ve seen them day after day after day.  It’s not like when they were babies and changed in the blink of an eye.  Older folks pretty much look the same day-to-day, and by older, I mean over the age of five or so.  I’m a bit disturbed to get to the end of the day and wonder if I ever truly stopped and looked into the faces of the two people closest to my heart.

We talk all the time, and those who know us in real life know this is not just an expression in this case.  We talk in the car (I look where I’m going), we talk across bathroom doors (less face-time while in the bathroom now, thank goodness), and they talk to me when I’m on the phone.  I’m often the distracted one,  cleaning the sink, cooking a meal, tending to animals or bills, while talking with a child.  When I’m not occupied, they’re playing with legos, waving duct tape swords, or looking for the cat(s) of the month. 

Until they’re in trouble.  Then, out of my mouth, unbidden by my conscious mind and not part of my childhood memories, comes, “Look at me when I’m talking to you.” 

Then the sad/worried/angry face aims itself towards mine.  We look at each other, eye to eye, angry, concerned, frustrated, tearful.  Rarely smiling and full of joy.  Those more pleasant moments, occurring much more often than the less pleasant, go unmarked by eye contact.  And I’m bothered by this.

Neither boy has ever had the best eye contact by nature.  Both tend to look away and turn away while talking, as if the countenance of  their conversation partner is too much stimulus when their thoughts are flowing out their mouths.  And perhaps this is so.  But I could do better, searching out their eyes during the joyful and even mundane parts of our day, rather than only when expressing my disappointment or concern. 

I take solace in our nighttime rituals.  Come evening, when my younger and I snuggle into bed, ready to read and cuddle, he’ll often gaze directly into my eyes, smile full and bright, as he says, “Ready? Read!”

The imperative is tradition between us, and for whatever reason, we’re always eye-to-eye for this line.  And I drink in his green-grey eyes for just a moment, before he turns his head to listen to the story.  And I am filled.

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