Michele-Campbell-Thinking-Out-LoudIt’s interesting how the things we come across in our daily lives leave such a lasting impact.

It’s those moments that were small in time, but huge in the message they represent.

A few weeks ago, I was coming out of the Waukesha Public Library and walked alongside a mother and her son, who appeared to be about 3 years old. They were walking hand-in-hand when suddenly he stopped dead in his tracks to observe a dandelion.

I had to stop my pace, too, but realized I was about to witness the wonder of a small child.

He looked at it carefully from all sides and I knew the typical 3-year-old inventory-of-wonder questions were about to be asked. I was not disappointed!

The mother apologized that I had to stop and I told her I am glad I did. He asked everything from why was it yellow, where did it come from, why is it so pretty, to could he plant them at home. He was in complete awe of this weed.

His mom asked him if he wanted to pick it to take home. Words alone can’t describe the smile on this child’s face. His day was made. He had a dandelion.

I call these instances WOW moments. They are those little God moments he puts into our lives on purpose. This WOW moment made me realize how great kids are without even trying.

They are genuine.

This dandelion WOW moment gave me pause to think about how humble and happy most kids are. I have had the blessing of raising three children, as well as teaching many others.

With the exception of a few days in the trenches of childhood, most kids are genuinely happy.

I love to watch them on the playground at recess. There are football games, girls swinging on the swings, four-square matches, jump rope contests and my favorite, the general, “I am running like a wild dog and I don’t know why but it’s fun and I am going to keep doing it until the bell rings.”

The one thing they have in common is that genuine happiness only a child can generate.

They are unconditional.

It is really incredible how kids, without even knowing it, can change your attitude. I love the smiles on babies’ faces when you enter a room. They are so happy to see you! They don’t know you were up late trying to get Sharpie out of the carpet, or that you burned dinner because the dog got out. They don’t care. They are happy to see you, regardless of the stories behind your demeanor.

The transformation of attitude is complete by the time you lift the baby out of the crib. The contagious smile has spread to another person.

They are awesome.

Anyone who has driven a carload of kids knows the conversations that arise as well as the decibel level. Teens on the way to the mall are a true test of concentration with the giggles, squeals, silly songs and laughter. Let’s not forget the passing gas sounds made by the hands of a baseball team followed with gut laughter that rival the speaker system at Summerfest.

Yet, it’s very rare that a car full of kids spends the whole trip complaining about insignificant things, as adults with a captive audience tend to do. I would rather ride in a car with silly kids than stuffy adults any day.

They are remarkable.

Spring blesses us with the birth of new life in our backyards and in our faith. It’s not a coincidence that Easter is celebrated in the spring. What a sign of rebirth!

It is also the time that toothless second graders and awkward high school students receive the sacraments of Eucharist and confirmation. As silly as kids can be, it is quite amazing how a child/teen shows a sincere sense of joy when he or she approaches the altar. The Holy Spirit fills them with this unexplainable feeling of deep peace they will never be able to explain.

This joy is our reminder from above that the peace has been — and always will be! — there.

They are the future.

Look what we are leaving them. Perhaps forgiving should be added, too.

I also consider them the amazing present – a true gift from God. May we appreciate them as God does.

(Michele, a mother of three, teaches fourth grade at Waukesha Catholic School, Waukesha.)