How you made them feel.
Children do not need much to bring the joy into their eyes.
But then, unfortunately, it is just as simple to crush the sparkle. One hasty word, one thoughtless glare, one tired sigh can suck the joy dry in a flash.
I have had the honored privilege to have a front row seat in a lot of children's lives, and always, always I am amazed how little it takes to bless a child. A smile. An encouraging high-five, letting them help when it would be so much easier to do it yourself, stopping to listen when they have important tidbits to share, respecting their opinions, and not belittling their fears.
I am reminded again, in this Christmas season, as folks run frazzled from one thing to the other to buy, decorate, and wrap so that everything is picture perfect. We all want that memorable time and that perfect gift, and that magazine-worthy holiday dinner.
But, let me tell you a little secret. All that stuff that has to be so perfect and right, the children will scarcely remember. I do not speak of all that as being complete rubbish, but when I reach into the recesses of my memories, would you like to take a stab at what remains in the cob-webbed corners? It's the smile, the care, the moment someone took to listen to my foolish story, the time my first-grade teacher asked me what my opinion was. Of course, the harsher moments are also seared into my brain, but I've grown up, and understand better how those moments can happen without meaning them to.
And those uncomfortable feelings remind me constantly that children remember.
They will remember how I made them feel. And when I remember that, I can begin to change the natural impatience and scorn that wants to cross my lips and eyes more than I care to admit.
Children are precious, and if you want to conquer the world and change it into something beautiful, give a child a smile.
They will remember.