Making the decision to have a child is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body. -Elizabeth Stone
Last Saturday, our family and friends went down to Point Dume, a beach in Malibu with waves that will knock you upside down and hidden beaches that look like smuggler’s coves. As Oliver, my newly 6 year old son walked along the water’s edge, he picked up an old green bottle with a piece of paper sticking out of it. His eyes grew large as he scanned the flame-burned edges of crinkly parchment. A treasure map!
After gathering all and sundry round him to show off his new found prize, we could indeed confirm that a.) it appeared to be a treasure map and b.) the treasure looked to be buried on a hidden beach beyond the craggy rocks which fortuitously rose not 50 yards from where we stood. With much excitement and great import, our motley crew scrambled our way over the rocky outcropping until we landed safely on the sand below.
The map said that the treasure was buried 69 steps from the edge of the rocks, and Oliver paced them off as we counted. 67….68….stop! Oliver shouted. Directly below him was a large black x painted in the sand.
Our first attempts at digging brought up an old brass candlestick; our second two pirate swords and the hilt of a broken third, and our next revealed a skull. Undeterred by this obvious attempt at frightening us away from the treasure, Oliver and his merry band dug on, until about three feet down, he caught sight of a piece of old fishing net sticking out of the hole. Three of us pulled, finally uncovering an old oak chest about the size of a large trout. As Oliver slowly opened the lid, his eyes gleamed with the reflection of gold coins and ancient jewels. I’m rich! he exclaimed, pausing only long enough to dress in the piratical waist coat, head scarf, and eye patch that had been conveniently buried along side the treasure chest.
When his uncles asked him what he intended to do with his new found fortune, he thought for a moment. Share it, he said. But only with you.
Now I’m not going to say whether Oliver’s godfather Dave (or as little Clara persists in calling him unclefatherdavid) had a hand in this miraculous discovery. I mean, sure he’s spent the last three months gradually gathering together old coins, bits of costume jewelry, and devising a plan, but that’s not to say that this wasn’t real pirate booty.
What I will say is that almost as moving to me as the sight of Oliver with his treasure and Clara dressed up in the oversized waist coat, waving her sword and proudly declaring herself a girl pirate, was the look in all the grown up eyes. Part joy, part awe, perhaps even part sadness at a glimpse into the forgotten innocence of youth, I realized in that moment that because of a lot of love and a desire and willingness to make that love tangible, unclefatherdavid created more than a gift for Oliver – he created a memory that will last us all a lifetime.
Children respond to loving attention like light bulbs to electricity – you can almost see and feel the life force grow in them as an immediate response. Take some time this weekend to try this little experiment – devote at least an hour to making a child’s day.
If you don’t have children or grandchildren of your own, who’s your favorite niece or nephew? If you don’t know any children, your experiment is even simpler – get to know one and prepare to be amazed. (Always by way of their parents, please – we’re pretty paranoid about strangers with candy these days….)
Have fun, learn heaps, and make a child’s day!
Michael Neill is the author of The 7 Myths of Success audio program and a globally sought after life coach and speaker, with a client list ranging from prominent members of the entertainment industry to the Saudi Royal Family. He writes a weekly coaching column available on the internet at www.geniuscatalyst.com, currently read in over 80 countries around the world.