Beyond The Sphere of Children

Go ahead: stare riiiiight into the sun... you'll be fine.

Go ahead: stare riiiiight into the sun… you’ll be fine.

It was  early morning and I was going for a run.  Ahead of me I could see a cluster of women walking their kids to school. The oldest was about seven. The youngest was two or three: old enough to walk, but not old enough to keep up easily. By all evidence they were a good family; but they had their backs to me and they were taking up the whole sidewalk.  I was very quickly approaching to overtake them. On one side the sidewalk was lined with thick shrubs and on the other telephone poles and electrical boxes.

I had two options: stop running until the sidewalk widened and I could pass them or run in the street to get around them.

It was about this time that one of the younger kids fell behind. Maybe she couldn’t keep up or maybe something distracted her. What I do remember, vividly, is that I saw the mother turn to see what had become of the child. I thought:

“Oh good, she will see that I am coming and will encourage everyone to move to one side.”

But the mother did not see me: her vision did not extend beyond the sphere of her own children. Traffic was clear so I dropped down into the street to pass them feeling annoyed and fascinated. In observing that single gesture I suddenly understood why parents sometimes seem irrational to non-parents. This was a good mother: attentive, diligent, observant- clearly she cared enough to walk her kids to school and to make sure no one fell behind, but she hadn’t seen me coming. I wasn’t a threat: as long as I wasn’t messing with her kids it didn’t matter that I had to run into traffic because there was no more room on the sidewalk.

As long as I wasn’t messing with her kids I didn’t exist.

She wasn’t ignoring me to be mean, she just couldn’t see me. Her children were like bright lights: perhaps the brightest thing in her world, and to see past them into the rest of the world was to look into darkness. Everything in her world is illuminated by this wonderful brightness everything in the darkness beyond is indistinct and, as a result, un-important. If I had been hit by a car her first thought would not have been “We should have shared the sidewalk” but rather would have been “that accident upset my kids”.

This attitude might sound a bit condemning coming from a non-parent, but I don’t mean it that way. Good parents should see the world illuminated by the light of their children, but to be unwilling or unable to see anything beyond their children is to be blind to the wider world. Non-parents lack the advantage of this light by which to see the world, but as a result can see it more clearly. Perhaps this is why it takes a village to raise a child- because children need to be the light of their parents’ eyes and because parents need the perspective of non-parents to see what exists beyond the sphere of their children.

~ by Gwydhar Gebien on February 12, 2013.

2 Responses to “Beyond The Sphere of Children”

  1. Hi

    I hope I finally got myself signed on with Word Press. It isn’t easy, and I don’t know why.



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