“Noticer” is not a word. My computer continues to remind me that it is not a word, but it is absolutely a personality descriptor. This is my middle son, Adrian. He is 5 and he is totally a noticer. He notices things on the daily that would not be on my radar in a million years. He can pick out a car that looks like our car from a parking lot of hundreds. As we are driving, he sees something that reminds him of his grandma and talks about a memory with her. If I come out wearing a “fancy” dress (like one from Target or Macys – lol) he notices and tells me I am beautiful. When his dad comes back from the barbershop, he notices and says he likes his haircut. He sees wildflowers on the side of the road and remind me that those are the same wildflowers at our home 20 or 50 or 150 miles away. He notices.
I was struck by his noticing abilities a couple of months ago for a couple of reasons. First, because he is so acutely aware of certain experiences in the world that I am absolutely not aware of at all. And second, he calls out what he notices in the most beautiful way. I want to share why I think we, parents, may all want to pause and notice more as well.
Noticing stops the busyness
Adrian is a tinkerer. He is at an age where he loves to tinker with things around the house, imagine and pretend new things with toys and pencils and lego bricks. In his tinkering, he notices unique details about the world around him that I simply miss because I am too busy, or flooding with other things, to realize. For instance, the other day, he was playing with some beads and I said in passing, “I really like those orange beads.” (I know orange is his favorite color so I specifically called those out.) And he looked around the table, confused. I said, “Those beads you are playing with are orange.” He said, “No they’re not. They’re red.” We argued for a minute and once I came closer to where he was seated, I realized he was right. They were red (orangy red if I want to really still be right!).
You see, I think we sometimes have so much else going on in our minds and our schedules that we forget to notice the small things. Our kids don’t have nearly as much internal noise going on, so they have more space for noticing those things. But beyond the unimportant details of red beads versus orange beads, I found myself wondering what else I am not noticing.
Perhaps that Adrian played by himself for several minutes without whining or needing anything from me? Or perhaps that he went to be last night without arguing? Or how about that he loves to run and play outside? Or how kind he was to his baby brother this morning? Did I miss noticing that too? If I’m being honest, the truth is, yes. I did miss that. Because I didn’t do the other thing Adrian is teaching me is so important: calling out what I notice.
Bring honor by calling out what you notice
I am ashamed to admit that I have noticed and thought so many positive things about so many people that I never shared with them for fear of looking silly or feeling inadequate. Perhaps it is Adrian’s age that keeps him from having a filter, allowing him to share what he notices, or perhaps he will always be this way. Either way, his noticing almost always brings out the good around him. He brings honor to his siblings when he notices something special about them. Even when he notices (and awkwardly points out) someone who is taller or looks different from him, we use it as a teaching moment to engage in conversations with other people about the goodness of differences.
How can you notice something great in your child today AND call it out with them?
How can you notice something beautiful or good in your community AND share it with someone nearby?
How can you notice the hard work of someone who made your life simpler today AND share that with them?
Who could you honor by noticing today?