Toddler Time: Why We Should Follow It Sometimes

In my latest quest to make sure that my son T.A. and I maximize our time spent outdoors, I’ve enlisted his help in walking our 11-year-old Beagle named Rosie.

Taking my son by the hand down the neighborhood street is no easy task.  I have compromised with him that I’ll allow him to walk hands-free with me as long as when  spot a vehicle he heeds my call to stand by me with both hands in mine.  If you’re a parent, you’re well aware of these multiple mini-negotiations that fill your days–it’s wonder we’re not all hired to be diplomats for our nation.

At first these walks were a humorous observation of who was the more distracted one on either end of the leash: the dog or the toddler.  He stopped to point at pile of leaves on the side of the road. He said “whoa!” in adoration in response to the sound and then sight of the helicopter whizzing overhead.  He reached up toward the leaves of the tree full of yellow blossoms (subsequently dropping the leash handle sending me scrambling for Rosie).

So my first reactions to all of this was atypical of us stressed-out mammas. Lots of “quit that”, “come on and keep moving”, “leave that alone” and so forth in Greek and English.  Then came the day when I looked up and saw the most beautiful yellow bird in the branches of a tree he was passionately in “Bam-Bam” tones pointing out.  I started explaining the bird’s color and behavior as I simultaneously thought to myself that I need to check my bird field book to find out the name of this bird and others that we see on our walks together.

The past week or so I have found myself becoming addicted to these walks with T.A.  It occurred to me that this a type of salve that we have almost lost in our human society.  It means I’ve had to let go of my obsession with keeping to a contrived schedule of busyness. 

Whatever happened to taking a leisurely walk alone or with others WITHOUT an Ipod.  What is our addiction to stimulation stemming from?  Why must we try to fill each moment of the day with a preprogrammed task to check off?  My toddler son has reminded me that it’s quite refreshing to just indulge in the moment as simple as walking down the neighborhood street and taking in the sights and sounds–mundane or extraordinary.

I now look forward to these walks with my dog and son.  I hope that when he is my age he’ll still enjoy them, hopefully with his friends, loved ones or possibly little ones of his own.  My resolve, thanks to Toddler Time, is to enjoy these walks even when alone one day–absorbing the environment around me unfettered while also fondly reminiscing the times I watched my toddler son dance along before the years sped off too fast for my aging soul.


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