I remember the first time I took newborn Elliot to the big grocer. I needed some laundry detergent, so I tucked him into his pram and we strolled down the boulevard to the nearest supermarket. Maybe it was the new mama hormones, but sensing the world through this tiny, brand new baby was an eye-opening and somewhat overwhelming experience. Though I had walked that very street countless times before, this time I felt bombarded with the noise and fumes of the traffic. The drivers seemed particularly distracted and dangerous as I pushed my sweet little bundle across the street. My senses were assaulted as we entered the grocer. The air conditioning seemed so be set to sub-arctic temperatures and the oddly cold flicker and glare of florescent lights was somehow more intense than the June sun. The scent of the detergent aisle was so strong I felt I could taste the perfumes and chemicals contained in the bright plastic bottles. Little everyday things that I never noticed before now seemed potent and powerful as they made their first impressions on my newborn son.
Walking through the woods a few days later, I was again reminded of the significance of the sense impressions I was sharing with my baby. The colors of the trees and flowers were especially vibrant, their smells were fresh and alive. The sun felt warm and comforting as it gleamed on us. The wind, the flowing river and the birds all sang in harmony as my feet stepped out a rhythm. Little baby Elliot looked up at me with eyes full of wonder, smiled and drifted into a peaceful sleep in his cozy sling. My heart swelled with gratitude for the earth's natural beauty as I shared a smile with a hiker passing by.
It occurred to me that we may not always be able to protect our children from the harsh and hardening impressions of the material world, but we can seek out that which enlivens their senses and nourishes their souls. I decided then to make an effort to limit our exposure to the glaring, shouting, stinking, ugly and overwhelming parts of our world and to seek out it's subtle wonders. The world is full of beautiful, gentle, friendly, peaceful places to share with our wide-eyed and receptive little children.