A fresh set of eyes can be helpful in solving problems. What eyes are fresher than those of a child?
My child is a very inspiring problem solver. He sees solutions that I would never even dream of because he is so imaginative. He’s good at puzzles—picking up the pieces and putting them where they belong. His skilled hands and the pictures on the front of the box make it look so easy.
He makes so many things look easy. When confronted with the classic philosophical puzzle of which came first, the chicken or the egg, he was astonished this would be legitimately pondered for any length of time. “The egg came first, of course. Eggs are for breakfast, chicken is for dinner. Why are we still talking about this?” He doesn’t understand why people struggle with these questions.
Once upon a time, Life threw us a curve ball and we both struggled. I reverted to being a single mom again, and it was pretty traumatic. He really wanted to get life back to the way it was. I did too, but I recognized it would not happen. I tried to explain our new reality to his four-year-old sad eyes. “He wanted cake. Mommy is more like ice cream. I told him to go find cake, we are really happy being ice cream and can be ice cream all by ourselves. We are fine. Let’s just be ice cream together, okay?” He nodded silently and I hoped the issue was laid to rest and that his emotional awareness would not be stunted by his mother’s use of food analogies to describe grown up relationships.
It wasn’t the end of the conversation. He had a solution to our dilemma. He proposed it to me on the drive home. “You should write him a letter and tell him you still love him. Tell him we can go to the grocery store and buy ice cream cake. Then everyone will be happy.” My heart was breaking all over again. This was one problem that just couldn’t be solved with four-year-old logic and a trip to the grocery store. I shook my head quietly and his little lip just quivered.
It seemed like a brilliant idea. It was adorable and charming and brilliant in its simplicity. His fresh eyes brought a different perspective to our problem. It was imaginative and inspiring. As good as he was with puzzles, it was my responsibility to pick up the pieces this time. I’m glad I was able to put them where they belong, even if it wasn’t what we expected from the picture on the box.