For years, my daughter (Denise) & I have had a running endearment term we call “Apple Tree.” Whenever she behaves in a manner that has been unmistakably handed down from me to her, we look at each other and simultaneously say “Apple Tree.”
Sometimes she’ll fall into an annoying behavior, one we both recognize as undesirable but can’t help ourselves. If this is a small annoyance, then we just laugh and move on. But at times, it means I owe my son-in-law an apology for the burden I bequeathed to Denise.
Maybe you’ve done the same: provided both intended and unintended legacies to your children. If they could only take the good from you and leave all the bad behind, that would be fabulous! Each generation improving on the one before. So sad that’s not the reality.
The truth is, the lessons that penetrate do so based on the frequency and impact of what you are demonstrating. Children don’t learn from what you say but from what you do. For children learn what they live.
If they live with love and kindness and tolerance, they learn compassion for those around them and have a chance of being less harsh on themselves.
When you live a life of passion, commitment, and courage, you’re etching a mural in the souls of your children so they can, one day, live an adult life of meaning and purpose and conviction.
For all those quirky traits you pass along, I hope yours are simply endearing and funny, imprinting warm memories. Because as the years advance, you will ultimately reap what you have sown. With aging, you will turn to the apple you planted and nurtured.
Your dear little apple will have grown larger and stronger than you, the aging tree. It is only then that your lessons will be palpable. Will they be comforting or agonizing? Will you relax into the tender arms of protection or will you wonder why things are going badly?
Then halt . . . take a moment today to evaluate what you’ve taught. It’s never too late to refine your lesson plans. If apologies are due, offer them up without reservations or excuses. Express the love that you may have failed to communicate in the rush of younger life.
Children are like puppies, always wanting love and attention. It’s never too late to feel what’s in your heart and express it. Nourish your apple well as one day your apple will cradle you, the tree.