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Preschool pick-up can get pretty chaotic—a flurry of
parents herding their children around other children who are dragging backpacks, running after their friends or scurrying to line up by the door. Teachers
and college interns and groups of kids collide, with kids laughing over the
daily parent-teacher debriefing that’s buzzing around the room (“So-and-So had a great day today!”). And,
of course, each new parent is met with tiny voices announcing, “Your mom’s
Some days my son will spot me, slyly smile to himself, and
run off in the other direction because IF YOU CAN’T CATCH ME, I GET TO STAY HERE
WITH MY FRIENDS FOREEEVVERRR! Some days he’ll run right over with two
still-small arms outstretched for a reunion hug.
But he doesn’t know that I’ve been watching him from the
moment I walked in. I saw him over there, standing by his cubby, talking with
one of his “buddies” or just getting his things together. I watched his eyes
scan the room from mom to mom.
“Are you my mother?” I imagine him thinking each time a new mom comes into his periphery. And no matter how I’m greeted, there’s always this initial moment when his eyes meet mine—the moment he sees me in the crowd—and that moment has turned into something almost sacred.
It’s a message of pure, unassuming love.
I’m sure you’ve seen it, too. You’ll notice it in the boy
casually scanning a crowded room during pick-up time. You’ll notice it in the
tiny flute player looking out into the audience with wide, searching eyes.
You’ll see it at dance recitals and on Little League fields—these tiny humans
searching into the void for something familiar, comforting.
And then it clicks.
Watch closely as those eager eyes stop on their “person,”
and pay attention to the soft exhale that spreads into a smile. That small sigh
is breathing out a message—and if you follow the love line from child to
parent, the same message is mirrored back.
It’s a message of pure, unassuming love. In fact, that brief
moment can teach us more about love than any poem or fairy tale or grand
Love is a reliable compass outside of your comfort zone.
It’s a reference point, a safe place and a source of
It’s the kind of love that only requires you to show up, to
be there. It doesn’t need fanfare or even language; it only needs a connection,
a spark, a recognition.
It just needs to be.
We spend our whole lives defining the parameters of love,
but maybe it’s much simpler than we realize. It’s right there at school
pick-up, as tiny eyes lock with their parents and whisper, “There you are.”