I have a challenge for you–stop and look, look around you. What do you see? So often we are in such a hurry that we do not actually see what is right in front of us. This was driven home to me this week, in the dentist’s office of all places. Our family was visiting a new dentist for our six-month cleanings and I spent a good bit of time in the one room as he worked with both of my children. Near the end of the visit, my son had to cooperate for an uncomfortable procedure that would last for two minutes. As I was scrambling to distract his mind from the large piece of equipment in his mouth I blurted out, “Hey, bud, look at that picture! What story does it tell you?” Now, I had been ‘staring’ at that same picture for the past hour, but as we actually looked at it and I pointed out unique elements of it for him to think about, it dawned on me that I hadn’t really seen it at all.
How often does this happen to us? Maybe it is a teachable moment or a memorable experience; perhaps it is a beautiful view or my daughter’s smile…what “pictures” am I staring at every day, without really seeing them? Not only do I often miss what is right in front of me, but I have not been intentional about teaching my children to “see” life either. Things are not slowing down; life is not getting simpler. I want to train my children to see past the busyness and pause to ponder what is right in front of them. Several ideas have come to mind as I thought how to do this. First, I want to demonstrate through example. I want them to see me gasping in awe at a beautiful sunset, or relishing the view of the snow on the hills. I want to point out unique architecture and the intricacies of God’s creation. I want to look them in the eye and hear their inflections while they speak to me. I want them to learn from me. But I think we can tangibly teach this skill of “looking to see” as well. Challenge your child to study a photo or painting for one minute and then discuss what he/she notices about the picture. Encourage him to write a story about that moment which is frozen in time. (Norman Rockwell’s paintings are perfect for this!) When driving, ask your children to list five adjectives or adverbs that describe the sky that day. Have them close their eyes in a busy room and describe what they hear. Play a game where you have them walk into a room, look around for a moment, and then leave again. Remove an object from view or move it to a different location. Can they spot the difference when they reenter the space? (This is especially fun to do in a room of your own house where everything becomes so common we tend to overlook it.) There are many ways to teach our children to “see” what is before them. I challenge you to stop and look, and train your children to do so also!