20 September 2010

Boy Chases Squirrel

There it is, folks. The meaning of life boiled down to three words.

I suppose you want the story now, eh? Well, I've got time...

On the first free evening I've had in awhile, I took Elliot (Mr. Six) to the park (his choice). He clambered a bit on the wooden apparatus before he disappeared from my sight. With new book (What To Eat - Marion Nestle) and water bottle in hand, I found a bench closer to the playground to watch him.

It isn't soon after that he has abandoned the playground equipment to run around on the green lawn that surrounds the park. He appears to be chasing squirrels. This entertains him for several seconds before he finds a long, slender branch on the ground. I then watch him transform from squirrel hunter to ninja with sword. Several moments pass in this fashion before he becomes enamored of the rickety circle swing - and now he's a human monkey.

He wanders closer to me after many minutes, and I ask him what he's doing. He doesn't respond, racing off instead at the sight of another squirrel. And that's when I thought to myself: Yeah, shut up, Mom.

We're absolutely stupid if we think we have nothing to learn from children. Here's what I gleaned in these few precious minutes watching my son:

1. More watching and listening. Less talking and lecturing.

2. As parents, we often ask our children "What are you doing?" but how often do we mean it as a question of curiosity? Most of the time, we mean it as a question of reprimand, critique, authority, or anger.

3. Elliot wants to catch a squirrel - so he has to chase one. It's fun. It's adventurous. It's impossible. Fortunately, he doesn't know that yet...but by God, the dream is a good one. And so, I will practice Axiom #1.

4. Mr. Squirrel managed to cross the street during the chase, bringing Elliot back to me. He informs me sagely that even though the squirrel crossed the street, he did not.

5. Children sure got some right ideas when it comes to living decently on this damn planet. Live for the moment, go for your dreams, safety first. Why aren't we taking notes?

I hope I never forget these lessons.
I hope I always have the wherewithal to tune in when the universe is talking.
I hope my kids never get old.

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