The Canvas


My daughter Emily led me by the hand into the entry way of our home. “Dad, what do you think?” I looked up and could hardly believe my eyes. It’s amazing what a little tape, construction paper and a whole lot of creativity can do. Oh, I knew something was going on. I was watching the game in the next room and I could hear the tape dispenser working overtime. It seemed between every tackle, every touchdown, a loud riiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiip echoed from the stairwell. Little did I know that my house was being transformed into a Dr. Seuss book.

By the time she was finished, our once simple high ceiling and boring beige walls had morphed into a dazzling display of hanging jin-tinglers, streaming flew-floofers, and carefully-crafted slew-slunkers. “Well?” she asked. “Do you like it?”

These are the times I believe some parents fall short. I could have said, “Wow, that’s awesome, make sure it’s all down before your mom comes home.” Or worse, “Shouldn’t you be doing your homework instead of making a mess?” As I looked up at my daughter’s incredible creation, I remembered what writer Mitch Albom calls “smudges.” Youth, like pristine glass, absorbs the prints of its handlers. Some parents smudge, others crack, a few shatter childhoods completely into jagged little pieces, Mitch wrote. How easily I could have smudged her at this moment. I looked at her and said, “This is amazing! Can we keep it up through Christmas?” Her smile grew bigger and her eyes outshined the Christmas tree in front of her. “Sure!” she squealed.

You’re gonna miss this
You’re gonna want this back
You’re gonna wish these days hadn’t gone by so fast

~ Trace Adkins

My wife and I agree that Emily sees the world differently than most. Give her a ball of yarn, a cardboard box, some markers and tape and an hour later you may have a new purse, an incredibly unique work of art, or a replica of your house. Just because we are her parents, we have no right to stand in her way. We have no right to extinguish this flame. Our house won’t always be “company ready,” but in a few short years, it will be just the two of us and we’ll wish we had a “blu-blooper” or two hanging from our chandelier.

My daughters are discovering that the world is a blank canvas just waiting to be painted. They’re collecting the colors they need to create beautiful lives. We have decided the best thing to do as parents is point the way, stand alongside and encourage, then stand back in awe.

We can’t wait to see what’s next.