In my shoes, there is a messy pile of bricks in the middle of the floor and a little boy who didn’t pick them up.

I see a constructed pile off to the left and I know that is your creation of the day, but you didn’t put it on the shelf like you should. You just left there for the dog to chew or for me to trip over.

Now I have to make the choice again. Do I take the easy way out and just pick it up for you? I’m much quicker at it and can do it more neatly. Or do I call you in here and ask you to do it and spend the next 30 minutes watching and directing? Why do I even buy these things in the first place?

In your shoes, you’ve just created an entire scene from some made-up movie in your head and spent the last two hours picking just the right bricks in just the right colors.

You sifted through the mini-figure pile and found the perfect people for your scene. You put it all together, brick by brick, with care and amazing attention to detail. The finished product makes you feel proud. You came to show me and chattered on about it excitedly and I looked up and smiled and said it was nice.

Just nice? You thought it was epic! You left your pile there ready to create the next scene but you had to take a break first because you got hungry. You have an awesome idea and you can’t wait to get back to building. Then you hear me. “You need to come and pick this mess up.”

I see a mess. You see a masterpiece.

In my shoes, I’m standing in a messy kitchen. I straightened it up earlier today but who can tell? I see the bread left out on counter and the cheese, too. A couple of wrappers litter the stove and one fell to the floor. The refrigerator door isn’t completely shut, and the step-stool is in the middle of the floor. I know you actually came in and made your own sandwich instead of asking me to do it—but the trash can is just steps away. Am I the only one who sees it?

In your shoes, you are a responsible boy who made his own sandwich. You let mommy work and you didn’t even ask your big brother to grab anything down for you.

You did it all by yourself and it’s a pretty good sandwich, too! You bet mom will be happy that you did it on your own. Then you hear, “Hey, you do know where the garbage can is, right?” That didn’t sound happy.

I see trash. You see independence.

In my shoes, there is a ticking clock. We should have been out the door five minutes ago. Why are we always and forever late to everything? I get to the car and realize you aren’t right behind me. Where did you go now? You know we’re running late.

In your shoes, there is a cat. A cute, little, fuzzy cat comes up to you when you walk out the door and you bend down to give it love. You always stop to give the animals love. You wish you could save them all. You wonder if the cat we saw at PetSmart found a home and you tell the cat you’re petting, “I love you.” Then you hear, “What are you doing? Come ON!”

I see a slowpoke. You see something in need of love.

If I could walk a day in your shoes, I’d understand what it’s like to be you. I can’t really fit my grown-up feet in your small shoes, but if I slow my own pace and pay attention, I can get a pretty good idea of what it’s like to be a little kid. And when I take the time to do that, I’m more understanding and more patient.

I also feel proud because I can see what a kind, creative kid you are. You’re not just a mess-maker or a slow poke. You’re an engineer, artist, noticer, animal lover and friend. You’re curious and kind. You’re gentle and unique. You’re gaining independence and figuring out your place in the world. You’re growing so quickly.

One day soon, you’ll have big shoes to fill. You’ll see the world with a little less wonder and move at a much quicker pace. Your load and your heart won’t be as light as it is now, so take your time growing up.

Stay in those little shoes as long as you can, just try to remember to put them on the rack when you come in.