Sunday, September 1, 2013

Slowing down

HP and I went to a nearby splash pad and pool this afternoon to (1) cool off since it is still in the triple digits here and (2) give Henry some uninterrupted time to work on putting up the tile in the kitchen.*  In true toddler fashion, rather than splashing, HP spent most of our time walking up and down a sidewalk, then up and down a hill, all while carrying my water bottle.

Whenever HP and I have been out in the world lately I have had Jack Johnson's lyrics running through my head:
Slow down everyone / You're moving too fast / Frames can't catch you when you're moving like that.
I have not been humming that tune thinking about how fast HP is growing up (that only feels true about half the time), but because he embodies the wisdom of that song with his little toddler life. 

More often than not, HP is uninterested in the main "attraction" of wherever we are.  Sure, splash pads are fun for a minute or two, but it is more fun for him to wander off the concrete to walk up the nearby hill and back down, or to leave the playground to wander through the grass, picking up every piece of trash in sight. 

At our local park there are days that he will ignore the playscape entirely.  Instead, he will sit in the rocks that surround the jungle gym and play with them for long stretches of time.  Picking them up, dropping them, handing them to me, throwing them, sticking his hands in them, putting them in his hat which never seems to stay on his head for more than ten seconds at a time, and of course, tasting them.

Today at the splash pad he decided it was his mission to carry my water bottle throughout the park.  We left the fountains behind and walked up and down the sidewalk, into the pool area, up a hill, and past a bunch of bicycles locked to the fence.  Each new area required lots of pointing, grunting, and examination before moving on to the next stop.

And you know what?

I love it.  I love getting to slow down with him and just be wherever we are.  I get to let go of my expectations and see what interests him instead of trying to push things on him that I think would be fun for him.  Sure, I thought we biked to the park to climb on the playscape or that we went to the splash pad to play in the fountains, but there's no reason why we should do that if HP would rather wander the grounds.  More often then not, his interest is trash (so many kinds! and it's everywhere! trash!), which I have to admit, I do not find quite as compelling.  But he is his own little person with his own ideas about what he wants to be doing. 

To be clear, he does not run the show.  There are plenty of times where we need to be somewhere or do something regardless of his preferences.  Naptime, bedtime, and meals and all non-negotiable.  But when it is playtime--either at home or out in the world--I see no reason to try and dictate to him how to have fun.

He does not need to someone to be constantly directing his activities or hovering over him; he needs to explore and figure out this crazy world.  When I give him those opportunities it feels like time slows down for all of us.  Not in a how much longer until we get to go home? kind of way, but in a good way, a we can hang out picking up rocks as long as you want kind of way.  It feels like we are present, in the moment, living life the way it is meant to be lived.  Not worrying about the next place we have to be, but just being in the place we are.

I know the whole "kids take forever to do things" can be frustrating.  Maybe it is just my personality, or maybe I am having a particuarly zen kind of day, but to me, living life in the slow lane of toddler time feels like the only way.

HP has slowed us down.  Way down.

I think the frames are catching us.

*The kitchen remodel is almost complete!  We just need to be grout and seal the tile, touch up the paint, and reinstall the hood over the stove.


  1. I was reading this article ( a while ago, and definitely thought of it while I was reading your post! I hope when I have kiddiewinks, I'm not too rushed to let them take their time!

    1. Thanks for the link! Being around HP has given me a great reason to just slow the heck down, but now that I have, I realize that it suits me. I was in New York recently and it was SO FUN but I could not handle the pace of life there for the long haul. Life in the slow lane is just so much more, well, relaxing!

      Also, I still need an update on your European travels!

  2. Almost a month ago I wrote a somewhat similar post: No Matter What Love