Friday, November 5, 2010
Preface: It's been weeks since my last "Things My Two-Year-Old Taught Me" post, and I realized recently that very, very soon I will need to change that to "Things My Three-Year-Old Taught Me." Truth be told, while I enjoy every other post I put on this blog, I miss these little life lessons, funny or profound (sometimes both). So I'll hopefully be back to making these posts more regularly, before my two year old gets too old.
Like most almost three year olds, bug is very active. He literally runs in circles around the couch in our living room, repeatedly, without tiring, for long periods of time. He chases his cousins, he runs away at the park when it’s time to go, he jumps around his bedroom and leaps from his bed during “quiet time” - he moves constantly. Sitting in the church pew, riding in his car seat, being tucked into bed... even normally considered still moments must be flipped and twirled and turned end over end.
Except for those inexplicable moments. The ones I was about to categorize as rare, but ultimately couldn’t, because they happen frequently enough to be considered a pattern. The moments of extreme concentration.
While at the park the other day, bug took a break from his fanatic whirlwind. He stopped by the tunnel, still as a statue. It caught my attention immediately, obviously, and I wondered if something was wrong. I called out to him, but he seemed oblivious to his name. I know it’s irrational of me, but I despise it when he ignores me. I mean, he’s two, he’s got his own agenda, and what two year old doesn’t ignore their parents sometimes? It’s expected - the whole asserting their independence thing. But even understanding that it still annoys me. It’s irritating that he does it simply TO irritate me, and then even more irritating that I rise to the occasion.
So I called his name again. And again, louder. My irritation grew.
Finally, I took the baby from the swing and went to investigate further - or give him a time-out. Depending. As I got closer, it was clear that he was staring at something, concentrating very closely. He wasn’t ignoring me after all. He was genuinely engrossed in something I simply couldn’t make out from my viewpoint.
I came up to him and asked, “bug, what are you doing?”
He looked at me and smiled, then, pointing to the object of interest said very quietly, almost in awe, “look!”
It was a ladybug. It sat on the plastic tunnel, unmoving. Perhaps it was considering bug as closely as he was considering it.
“Um, yes. I see it.” I said. It was just a ladybug, after all. How excited could I get?
“It’s a ladybug!” He said with quiet excitement, still pointing.
And then it moved. In the blink of an eye, it flexed its wings once, twice, then settled again.
And I realized I had never held a ladybug up to his eyes before. I’d never let it crawl along my hand and pointed out its black spots and it’s fragile wings. Sure, he knew what they were. We’ve read lots of books about ladybugs. But you can’t experience the world through books.
“Do you want to hold it?” I asked reaching for it.
“No!” He grabbed at my hand. “Let’s just watch for a while. We’ll just see. OK?”
And while at first I thought he was just being his cautious self, it dawned on me that he was right. Maybe we should just watch it for a while. Just study it and appreciate it. And not interfere.
I drove home that day with the stirring of a new wonder in my chest. An almost three year old may be reaching for independence. He may be able to run and jump and feed himself, or even put his shoes on. But not quite three years really is pretty fresh in this world. An almost three year old still sees wonder in everything around him. Even in the simplest beauties that I take for granted. Walt Streightiff said, “There are no seven wonders of the world in the eyes of a child. There are seven million.” And isn’t it part of my job as a mom to help him notice those wonders? To teach him, but not interfere? To let him experience the world and hopefully continue to feel it’s amazement's throughout his life? I mean, that’s the FUN part of my job. And why am I wasting it? Why had it taken me almost three years to point out a living, breathing ladybug? And why am I quick to react with impatience or jump to conclusions? Just as small and everyday things may be seemingly insignificant, actions and behaviors may not be all they seem, either. bug may be curious about a rock, not simply trying to avoid me.
We watched that ladybug for a few more seconds, until it became restless, stretched its wings out and flew off. bug seemed let down as he asked me why it did that.
And if I’m not careful, all of these moments, all of these simple wonders, will slip away just as easily and quickly as that ladybug did. And bug will be just as let down.
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