He has this old, ratty pair of Puma sneakers that he loves. I'm not quite sure why he loves them so much, but the boy loves them. He asks to wear them every day. Strings are starting to hang off, they are dingy, and worn. Most importantly, they are loved. Loved by a 6-year-old boy who, for whatever reason, believes they are the "best shoes ever." He wears these little red glasses that have been bent, sat on, stepped on, lost, and neglected. The red on them is coming off and revealing a silvery metal hidden beneath the color. The lenses are always filled with smears and some sticky substance. He has a true heart of gold--a heart that is bigger than what you or I could ever begin to imagine. He wants everyone to be happy and he wants to help anyone he can. Does he know he makes his mother's heart swell with love and pride? Does he know that I see him with a suit of armor walking around ready to help anyone who crosses his path?
Down the hall is his brother. He is quiet. Always quiet. He questions everything and even when given the answer he responds with, "How do you know?" He is curious and smart and sneaky. Some days he seems like an 8-year-old boy; other days he seems a lot older--the product of a life filled with challenges and struggles. He always holds his head up high, eyes narrowing in a serious glare as if to say, "Bring it on." Life is not easy. Childhood is not what it should be, but it's all he knows--his version of normal. He takes it as it comes. He accepts it. Does he know his parents burst with pride and can't talk about him and all his accomplishments without smiling?
Does he know that when we see him we see him with a cape?
A little girl sleeps soundly in her crib. Her little curls cover her precious head like a helmet. She is daring and bursting at the seams with happiness and emotion. She embraces life with all her little being and appreciates the small things around her--a rainbow on the wall formed from a prism, lights above us in the ceiling, a character or design on her shirt. "Look, Daddy," she seems to say as she points to her shirt and looks up at him with a huge smile spread across her chubby, angelic, little face. She runs at you, giggling the entire way, and then embraces you in a rough hug, wrapping her little arms tightly around your neck. "I love you," She seems to say. "I love you, too, sweet baby," I whisper back to her. She spends her time exploring, noticing everything around her, and playing peek-a-boo. Peek-A-Boo. So simple, yet, such an amazing game when played with a 14-month-old girl. Does she know that she brings laughter to our house on a daily basis? Does she know that when I look at her I see a brave girl facing everything in her path and not backing down for anything?
Children are truly a part of you. A physical, living, breathing part of you. I look at Alex, Logan, and Kaitlyn and I think, "They are a part of me." Every day they make me smile. Every day they make me laugh. Every day that passes I am more proud of them for their accomplishments and for the amazing little people they are becoming. I look at them. I watch them on their own. I watch them with each other. I watch them with others. A smile spreads across my face and I can't help but think, "My three little heroes."