A couple of months ago, our family was invited to a celebration at our friends' lake home. We left around nap time, hoping Elliot would sleep the entire way to Whitewater. But there were so many new things to see on our journey, he couldn't rest his eyes for a moment. "Look, mama, a cow! What's that? Corn? A farm! A farm! A farm!" Elliot sang out with excitement during our drive. What delight little ones find in observing the world around them!
Later that day, after much coaxing, Elliot swam for the first time (excluding the tub and back yard wading pool). He giggled with glee as he and papa glided through the lake water, finding bits of seaweed here and there. And, as the sun began to set in the sky, Elliot saw an amazing sight --- his first firefly! Indeed, the yard was covered with glowing bugs that seemed to magically vanish just before he could grasp them. He had never been awake past sunset in the summer before, and his sense of wonder seemed to permeate the entire group of mostly childless adults.
Over the years we have declined many invitations to barbecues, fireworks, concerts in the park and festivals to honor our family's rhythm. At times, I wondered what we were missing. But, our experience at the lake strengthened my inner sense that we needn't rush through our lives, eagerly pressing experiences on our families. As the days unfold, so the world reveals itself to our little ones (and big ones, too). Sometimes when we pause to gaze at the sky, we see shooting stars. We delight in these fleeting, magic moments... when we are still enough to be aware of them.
While our love for our children may compel us to share the entire world with them as soon as their tiny eyes open, they needn't be barraged with outings and special activities. The IMAX and the circus have little to offer our youngest children. A morning helping mother hang out the laundry is, in itself, an enriching activity for a young child. An infant lies in the grass soaking in beautiful colors of the clothes drying in the wind as the butterflies fly overhead. A little toddler delights in handing the clothespins to mama, while a preschooler may prefer to "build" by clipping the pins together. A game of chase between rows of colorful linens enlivens a magical morning. The presence of a child seems to bring out the sacred in even the most mundane tasks, whether or not the adult has the presence of mind to notice. As they grow, our children will have many "firsts." With each passing day, week and year, they will have deepened their capacity to enjoy and experience each new wonder our world has to offer.