Michael and Ashley will be having their first baby in a few weeks. Like anyone in their position, they’re dealing with all anxieties that come with that event. Michael, for his part, has been concerned with kerning.
Kerning is a typography term that relates to the space between letters. Most of the time, if it’s done well, you don’t really notice it. Things (words, signs, sentences) just look right; like they belong together. When kerning is bad, though, it’s really bad. Things look clunky, unkempt, and careless.
Michael, as a programmer who works with designers, knows kerning is important, but isn’t all that comfortable making the call himself. So he sent a picture to all the designers and asked for help to get the kerning right on the letters he’s hanging on the wall of the nursery. He wants “ELLIE” to look just right.
We have all been coached to spend a lot of time and energy making the big decisions, and they are certainly important. And you might think that there are other things– more important things– that Michael should be focusing on right now. But the truth is, he knows these little things matter.
Parenting, it turns out, isn’t so much about the big things that need to be decided and done. Rather, it’s all about the little things. How you react when she asks to sit on your lap and read a book. What you say when you’re frustrated from driving in snarled traffic. How you answer when she asks for something she really wants, but doesn’t need. And maybe most importantly, how you treat her mother; both when you’re happy and when you’re not.
It’s in these little things that our children learn to get along with each other. It’s how they learn to cope with things when they don’t go quite as well as they’d hoped. In these little things, our little ones find out that words can hurt, but they also heal. It’s how they learn to forgive and to put the needs of others before themselves. These little things, without a doubt, are how they learn to love, along with countless multitudes of other things.
I often hear parenting experts talk about teaching moments as if they only come along every so often. They couldn’t be more wrong… These moments happen every minute of every day, whether you’re aware of it or not. Kids watch. They listen. They learn. The good, the bad, and the ugly, all together, all the time.
So with a few weeks left until delivery, Michael busies himself with letter spacing. There may be many reasons for this, but it isn’t trivial. Instead, it shows that Michael has already learned one the key lessons of being a parent: Little things matter. A lot.
Ellie, when she gets here, will be in good hands.