As kid walked down the mall isle it was clear to everyone that he was on a tight leash, literally! There was an x-laced strap that circled both shoulders and his chest with a single hook beyond his reach in the center of his back. A wide nylon lease was anchored on one end with a double ring and on the other with a firm loop around his mother’s arm. This kid was not going to escape!
It would be too easy to conclude that the younger the kid the tighter the feedback and control loops are in her/his life. As I watched the mother in the store I came to a very different conclusion. This kid was a handful! He had a natural curiosity that included exploring anything and everything. With his smile and engaging eyes, it was clear that he was bright and friendly; there were no strangers in his life, just new people waiting to be met. He was on hyper-drive. Life was for living and he was getting everything he could.
His mom’s reaction initially seemed draconian. Within a few minutes it was clear that she was doing the basics so that the kid was protected from himself. Her encouraging and patient words gave him confidence to keep exploring. Her smile was energy for his soul. The light step and hand spoke of someone that wanted everything for him. The short feedback loops gave him what was needed to do more safely.
What would have been an overwhelming handful for me was a joy to her. In context, I hear Paul’s words very differently. When he notes how “I’m not writing all this as a neighborhood scold just to make you feel rotten. I’m writing as a father to you, my children. I love you and want you to grow up well, not spoiled.” (1 Corinthians 4.14) I realize that at my best I am this kid. Life is for living! The best feedback loops help me do more not less.
Today is filled with possibilities. This kid knows how to live.