On becoming important: Happy Valentine’s

It’s amazing how a child can creep into your heart and take over. I’m sure anyone who has ever truly loved a child understands that with every ounce of his or her being.

“Never make a worm cry,” my grandson announced one day as we pulled into our driveway.

Caden was safely strapped in his car seat in the back. Whether it was seeing the driveway that reminded him of a wet day when he was busy seeking all the long wiggly worms on the concrete or something else, I was astounded.

“What did he just say?” I remember thinking. So I repeated it aloud.

“Yes, they’re nice. They never hurt nothing,” he said with all the knowledge a 4-year-old can put behind a statement.

He likes worms and carries them around until he finds just the right spot to put them down. I feel that way when I see worms sliding across the street or stuck in puddles. But I’ve never thought about them crying.

On one hand, it’s kind of corny, but as a grandmother it’s one of those wonderful things that I’ll tuck away for safe keeping in my memories forever. He’ll think I’m nuts when he grows older and I remind him about it.

I hope it’s indicative of the man I would like to see him become. Taking time to rescue earthworms isn’t such a bad trait. I want him to grow up to be kind, understanding and gentle with others. I also want him to be successful. And find something to do that he really enjoys. Something that gives him that drive to get up every morning looking forward to the day and what it brings along.

I think I’ve known a few individuals who seemed not to aspire to anything as ambitious as stooping to save a little creature — even just a worm. They’re missing so much. And sadly, I don’t think they had a clue that things could be better, more interesting, more purposeful and worthwhile.

Joining other generations of grandparents before me, I shake my head and wonder what the world’s coming to? It’s never been this awful. How can a child grow up and succeed in such turmoil?

I remember my grandmother saying similar things. I’m sure she thought I would grow up to be a hippie. She wasn’t alive to see it, but I did graduate high school — her biggest wish. I did go on to college and found a career I’m still enjoying.

But wait, terrorists plotting to blow things up and killing people are the worst thing to happen to any generation, right? I believe it’s the same behavior we’ve seen for centuries it’s just that the means of bringing death and destruction have progressed. Just the other night on the news they were announcing the sales of individual flame-throwers. That just isn’t right. My head spins with all the damage and destruction caused by them.

The media lets us know far more about what’s happening in the world and a lot faster than at any time in the past. I assume it will only get faster.

Past generations have had their enemies and realized terror. I’m sure living in fear of raids where homes were burned, animals stolen or killed, and people brutalized and killed were just as horrific. But that was along time ago, centuries ago even. But was it really that much different?

The terrors of the world may or may not change by the time Caden is ready to move on to his own life and meet his own goals. Whatever the world brings for his generation, I hope he understands how much he is loved and valued.

I hope he remembers the earthworms and the violets on his way to realizing what he finds inspirational. I could say that until he becomes important, but he’s already important. Every individual is important, even those who haven’t learned yet not to make worms cry.

Like the skills and ideals I’m trying to instill in Caden and welcome others to teach him to understand, I hope the moment comes when each of us has an opportunity to believe we’re important. I hope everyone has an opportunity to find someone who holds them dear. I truly hope Caden remembers to appreciate earthworms and come to understand the world around him and to continue to treasure the small things as well as the big.

So happy Valentine’s Day little one and to all of those who have learned to understand the real values of the world.