What my daughter taught me before 8am this morning

April 23, 2016

After breakfast Phoebe and I loaded up the buggy and walked to the beach, the air still fresh and the skies clear.

As we turned out of the gate I saw her strain to look at two labourers walking on the opposite side of the road, her tiny face breaking into a toothy smile and chubby hand raised to an awkward wave. In return they grinned and waved cheerfully, and we all continued on our way.

Once at the beach we settled on the sand, watching joggers and families pass by. A young Emirati couple strolled past us, and Phoebe waved. They waved back. Soon after the walked back again, smiling in reply to her continued waving, then went to their picnic blanket before coming over to share cookies with us.

After a few moments later she clocked a truck patrolling the beach. A well-dressed gent got out and made his way to the shoreline. Sure enough, our little social butterfly waved and smiled at him and he came over to say hello. We talked about babies, our time in Dubai, our families and she hugged his leg, climbing up for a cuddle.

I think this is what we mean by the innocence of children. That their hearts are just pure, and full of love. Of course they smile at everyone, because they’ve only ever known people to smile back. They’ve never been hurt, or disappointed, or rejected.

All I want to do is preserve that innocent heart, Jurassic Park-style, in amber forever, protecting her from the sadness and evils she will inevitably know.

Since becoming a mother I’ve learnt a lot of practical things, from swaddling to how to chip dried Weetabix off furniture, but having this smiley little person in my life, who expects the best from everyone, has cracked open my heart a mile wide.

She’s teaching me that a simple smile can invite people into your life, whether it’s for a fleeting moment on the beach, or starting a friendship. It’s also good for getting free cookies, and that’s always a good thing.

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