Lessons from a 3 year-old
If you ever want to be here, now, take a three year old to the park.
Normally, shortly after getting home from work, I rehash my day and immediately begin thinking about what I need to do next to be ready for the following day… and then I wonder why it feels like work never ends. On Mondays, I do make the time for a yoga class with my favorite teacher (her name is Jen Yost and you should buy her book, Bring on the Joy! ), and I am reminded to try to be here, now. I seem to live in the past and the future, so being here, now is difficult. But with breath, movement, and funky sitar-filled music, I do.
It was Wednesday, not a day I’m normally able to truly be here, now. I was tired from a long day at work (freshman research projects, you know), but my friend’s three year old son was waiting for me as soon as I got out of the car. “It’s warm, Aunt Beff,” he called. “Will you take me to the park?”
I’d taken a pass the last couple of times he’d asked me to go to the park with him and his dad, but his bright orange hair, which matched his bright orange Chucks, peeked out from under light blue engineer’s cap that had been sized to fit his little head with a rubberband in the back. He held a blue basketball the size of his torso. He looked at me expectantly, and suddenly my desire to kick off my shoes and settle into the couch was replaced by a need to kick off my work shoes, slip on some flip-flops, and take this adorable creature to the park.
I’m so glad I did. Not only did I get to make good on a promise to my friend’s son, whom I call my “nephew,” but I got to forget about work and see the world through his eyes.
For instance, my “nephew” noticed that the boys playing basketball were half dressed. (Three-year-old, yelling: Hey, those big boys aren’t wearing clothes! Me, more quietly: Yes they are; they’re just not wearing shirts.).
What else? Well, we:
- Were greeted by a dog.
- Watched the dog for a while.
- Tried to guess what the dog’s name was.
- Tried to guess the age of the boys playing with the dog.
- Made friends with a 4 year old boy and his 1 year old brother.
- Found out that the dog’s name was Luke.
- Conversed about the state of education in this country. (Me to four year old: Wow, four years old, huh. Do you go to school? Four year old: Yes, I’m four.)
- Closely examined the mulch, which was dry on top and damp underneath from the recent, record-breaking rainfall.
- Discussed the value of taking turns and waiting until the kid at the bottom of the slide is off before sliding down on top of him.
- Watched the rest of the four year old’s family play basketball.
- Watched as Luke the dog sniffed around the damp grass.
- Noticed that the leaves in the trees were making a lot of noise.
- Greeted my daughter, my friend, and her baby daughter.
Sometimes I was the spectator. For instance, he:
- Climbed up steep stairs, stood on a metal platform, held the bars and jumped up and down to see how much noise he could make.
- Took a slo-mo trip down the long slide, orange sneakers squeaking all the way.
- Shared the slide with the four year old.
- Raced the four year old from the bottom of the slide back around to the ladder. (Three year old, admiringly: Boy, he’s fast!).
- Stared into his sister’s face.
- Hugged his mom’s leg.
- Hugged my leg.
- Held my hand as we crossed the street.
- Let me kiss him on the keppie (head) without twisting away.
When we got home, we ate dinner together, all of us tired from the long day and satisfied from our trip to the park. Later, as my friend’s car backed out of my driveway, I realized that I had been there, then the whole evening. I hadn’t groused about annoying things that had already happened. I hadn’t fretted about things that were yet to happen. I was there, with my friends and family every single moment. It was amazing.
I’ll still be going to my amazing Monday evening gentle yoga class, and I’ll still be working on breathing and other methods to try to live in the moment, but it’s giving me a warm and fuzzy feeling to realize that the here and now is alive and well at the neighborhood park. All I need is my “nephew” to focus my attention.