"Look, Mommy!"

I'd made an exciting fossil find and couldn't wait to show all my treasures to my husband, who had taken the by-then-bored children off to be amused. The picture was clear in my mind. He would want to know what I'd found, and I'd lay out all the rocks and point, and he would exclaim at some, and we would wonder together about the mysteries in others. It would be the perfect completion of the adventure.

Well, when we found each other, he was distracted and rushed. We had to eat before the place closed, and the children were full of news from their own adventure. My find got a brief, vague acknowledgment, and life moved on. I was amazed at the intensity of my response. I felt deeply disappointed and angry at his inattention. It made me wonder if I'd found treasure at all, or just a bunch of old rocks, and it spread a pall over all the excitements of the future.

It occurred to me that this response seemed a bit childish--which naturally got me thinking about children. How often--particularly when they are young--they want us to notice their discoveries about themselves and the world. "Look what I found!" "Look what I made!" "Look what I can do!" There are so excited--and we are so busy.

How can a bug on the sidewalk compete with a long list of errands--and what's that exciting about a bug anyway? How can the thirty-fifth jump off the couch or the thirty-sixth picture on the same theme expect to attract fresh delighted attention from an overworked parent?

Yet they do expect it. Not only that. They want it passionately, and it takes them a long time to give up. I think there's a lesson for us here. Our children are excited and their excitement is real. If they perceive something as a treasure to them, then it is, and has all the value of the most valuable treasure. This openness to being truly excited, to finding treasure in unexpected places, is one of the great gifts of life that our children are ready--eager, bursting--to give us, over and over again. All we have to do is accept.

Of course it's easier said than done, but I think there's a lot in it for us. What if, by listening fully to words and tone of voice, we can catch a glimpse of the wonder of a bug--or any other miracle of life? What if, by watching the thirty-fifth jump with real interest, we can really see the exuberant vitality that is the birthright of every human being? What if, by asking about the thirty-sixth picture with our full attention, we can be reminded about our child's unique creativity and the creativity of all of us?

The more we can do this, the more we'll be helping our children hang on to their excitement about life, a wonderful quality that is so often lost so early. And we'll be better positioned to acknowledge, allow, take pleasure in, and enthusiastically share our own excitements, no matter how distracted, rushed and unexcited-looking the other grown-ups around us are.