She sat in front of me, her clear and innocent eyes taking me in, her face just inches from my own.
She is eight years old; more fashion critic than student most days. She comments on my hair, make-up, jewelry. I purchase earrings with her in mind: dangly sparkles of silver or gold accentuated with color and dancing below my earlobes. Last year when I had thyroid surgery she would ask about my scar, wondering if the angry red smiley face across my neck would disappear into obscurity beneath my necklace.
"Your surgery is getting better," she would comment as the months rolled by and it did, indeed, fade and grow less noticeable. Tact isn't a child's strong point, but in the middle of a little girl's honest observations, it's usually overlooked.
Yesterday as she sat at the desk in front of me, chin in hand, she played with my earring. We were inbetween groups so I allowed her to chit chat. "I like your earrings," she said, those brown eyes studying my face. I smiled and thanked her.....but wasn't prepared for what she said next when she noticed a small spot on my face:
"What's that on your face?" she asked. "I mean, I know what all those cracks are...."
I almost burst into laughter! I never thought of wrinkles as being cracks, but I can see that through a child's eye they must appear so.
I could be offended or feel insulted. But I wasn't. I have wrinkles...."cracks"....because I have lived life. I have felt the sunshine on my face, played outside, worried about those I love. And I've laughed. Smiles and laughter have always reached my eyes, making them crinkle around the corners in genuine joy. How lucky that I've had the kind of life that has made me feel, live and laugh so much!
When class was over, little hands went around my waist as she smiled up at me. And suddenly it didn't matter that I'm "cracked". "I love you," she said. And somehow - with these lines of imperfection - that makes things absolutely, perfect.