I’m never totally sure where my daughter picks up her random obsessions. Some are short lived, others persist. One that stuck for a particularly long time is airplanes. I’m sure at some point I pointed out an airplane in the sky. When she was about one or so we flew to Florida to see family. But aside from that, airplanes weren’t really on the top of my priority list of things to teach my daughter about. Nevertheless, from the moment she was able to positively identify an airplane in the sky she felt compelled to point out every single one thereafter.
Although it was not her first word, it definitely makes the top ten. She would be strapped into her car seat, quietly observing the world around her, when suddenly her arm would shoot up, finger pointing and she would shout “Airplane! Airplane”. Well, to be totally realistic it was more like “Ay-pen! Ay-pen!” Anyone who has spent any time with a toddler knows that I’m not exaggerating when I say she would shout. Her joy at the sight of a flying hunk of metal was pure and unadulterated. Over time the word became clearer, but the excitement did not diminish.
In the earliest days of the game she would shout “Ay-pen” and I was sure she had simply caught a glimpse of a bird or else a shadow. “No, baby. That’s not an airplane,” I would say patiently and knowingly. I would search the skies and, lo and behold, there was in fact an airplane. Needless to say I learned how to apologize to my daughter quite early in life. Every time she shouted “Airplane” (or some version of the word) there would be an airplane somewhere in sight. At times the airplane would be so far off in the distance I had an incredibly hard time spotting it myself. I learned not to doubt her. If she said there was a plane, I knew there was.
I was often amazed at the eyesight my child possessed. A tiny floating speck in the distance would not only be seen but recognized. It would have gone completely unnoticed by me, and by most adults I would dare to say. I used to say she would never need glasses. Ordinary people could not possess such extraordinary vision. I was aware that this might have been a bit of maternal bias, but that was of little matter, my kid had eagle eyes.
As my daughter got older she played the airplane game less and less. I think it had a lot to do with having so much more to see. As a toddler she could only see up out of her window. She wasn’t tall enough to top the door panel. The sky was all there was to see. When she finally grew tall enough to see directly out her car window, more of the world was up for scrutiny. Police cars, fire trucks, flowers, and cats were added to the list of things she never failed to spot. With so much to distract her and so much to watch and learn from, she had less and less reason to look up.
How many of us deal with the same problem? How many of us forget to look up from time to time? We live our lives absolutely surrounded by technology and distractions and things (and kids) demanding our attention. But do we always remember to look up and appreciate the things, the gifts, we have in our lives?
I’m often frustrated when women complain about the little things their husbands do that bug them. Because they are stuck in the details and haven’t looked up yet. I don’t doubt the frustration is real. I remember those moments of frustration. Socks don’t belong on the floor and it is possible to say the word duty without giggling and husbands (some) forget that. They don’t seem to notice or else take for granted the things they do right.
It bugs me when I watch parents buried in their phones while their kids are running amok in the museum. I understand they might have work or matters that must be attended to, but it doesn’t seem like they ever look up. And if you are going to take your kid out to do something fun, wouldn’t that be the day you would want to pay the most attention?
I’m willing to take a cue from my daughter and spot my airplanes. Are you?