From Chicken Soup for the Mother of Preschooler's Soul

Hand and Heart

Perhaps parents would enjoy their children more if they stopped to realize the film of childhood can never be run through for a second showing.

Evelyn Nown

A set of handprints bakes in the mud on my front doorstep. I’ve passed by them several times in the last two days. They’re drying nicely.

Most people would probably have taken a hose and power-washed them away by now. Not me. As far as I’m concerned, they can stay right where they’re at till the next thunderstorm dissolves and washes them away. They speak a message to me that I’m not in a hurry to forget.

I have a friend who would understand that kind of thinking. In fact, she’s largely responsible for birthing it in me. She lives by one simple rule: The state of the kids who live in the house is more important than the state of the house in which they live. She’s more into heartkeeping than housekeeping. If her family’s happy and healthy, her

life’s a success, and she’s thrilled. A clean house, but one containing unhappy residents, would speak nothing but failure to her mind and heart.

My friend speaks from experience when she warns me that all too soon there will be a day when my front step won’t be covered in sun-baked mud . . . a time when I’ll no longer need to wash greasy fingerprints and black smudges off my walls . . . a time when my windows and glass doors will remain fingerprint-free for days (rather than minutes) after they’re cleaned.

She’s taught me to deepen the imprint of those little hands on my heart, to carry me through those days when they no longer bake in the sun on my front porch.

Elaine L. Bridge

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