One of the good things about being a pediatrician is that, seeing newborns, infants, toddlers, preschoolers, school-aged children, tweens and teens each week, I get reminders of what it was like to have my children go through all of those stages.
This year has led to a lot of monotony for many of us. So much monotony. I know it will date me to talk about the movie “Groundhog Day,” but in a lot of ways, this year has felt like that movie, the point of which is that in adulthood, we wake up and live the same day and do the same thing over and over again.
Snooze the alarm. Visit the restroom. Shuffle to the kitchen. Turn on the coffee maker. Make breakfast. Make the school lunches. Wake up the kids if they aren’t awake. Plan meals. Get the kids to school. Go to work. Endless laundry. Eat. Bathe. Go to bed. Wake up and start over again.
We are fortunate to have been able to walk our kids to elementary school when they were younger. Remember how painful it is trying to get somewhere on time with a toddler? At the same time, remember how everything is magical to a child who sees it for the first time?
I can remember trying to walk my oldest child to kindergarten with a toddler and a newborn in tow. If you have gone on a walk with a young child, you know that you have to stop and touch and talk about every little thing.
If there was a curb, they had to jump off of it.
If there was a puddle, they had to splash in it.
If a car drove by, we had to listen to the engine as it rumbled past us.
If the wind blew the leaves in the trees above, we had to stop and watch the leaves flutter, and listen, and feel the wind on our faces.
If there was a rock, or a leaf, or an acorn, they had to pick it up, assess it, and place it in a pocket for safe keeping.
And if there was a roly-poly bug, we had to stop and watch it walk all the way across the sidewalk until it reached the grass.
Everything was noticed. Everything was magical.
To a child who is just learning about the world, there is so much wonder and awe. I remember my daughter saying around age 5: “Sometimes when I run and the wind is blowing, I feel like I’m running with God.”
I wish we could hold on to that feeling when life becomes adult life, when the wind just annoys you and messes up your hair.
At what point does life beat the wonder out of us? At what point does the feel of the wind become something we don’t even notice?
How about if this week, you try to take a walk around your space and see the world through the eyes of a young child.
Try to slow down and find the wonder that used to be there, that still is there if we can slow down and look for it. And if you have young children, hold on to the magic, even when it’s annoying and slows you down. Because some day the wind will just be the wind for them, too.