Just today, we walked to the pond down our road. John loves to dive right in. Swimming to the deep middle and then back again. He is so daring and uninhibited. May prefers to splash in the shallow waters. She claws the wet sand with her fingers. Her suit has more sand in it than the beach.
They ask me to join them, but I refuse. Ponds are not my thing. I’ll jump into the middle of a lake or a pool, but this pond, meh. But I’ll take the paddle boat out with them.
I’ll be still with them.
Listening to the frogs and the crickets. Watching the water striders and the fast dragonflies. So much to take in.
I don’t bring my phone. Not even my camera. Uninterrupted childhood.
And then I see it hopping. A rather large frog. I wonder if either of them notice, which I really want them to. But I wait, and then I point him out. Look! A frog!
And I’m so very tempted to tell one of them to pick him up. Or say, “okay, John is older so let him.”
No, I bite my tongue.
All the little thoughts I’m thinking:
May, don’t step on him. Stop shrieking, you’ll scare him.
John, let your sister have a turn. Don’t squeeze him too hard.
I bite my tongue and watch.
All the little thoughts in my head that would distract them from their childhood notions:
What will they do with a frog? Get him sandy? Pick him up? Watch him? Let him pee on you? Capture him? Cover him with algae? Throw him in the pond? Build him a home of sticks? What?
All the wonder that could have been wasted by my petty “don’ts!” and “but I know how to handle that frog better!” (Which certainly is not the case because I would not pick up a frog.)
When we are home, it is easy for me to watch them.
To seek out that independent, uninterrupted play time for them.
The times when John make races with his trucks and builds worlds with his beloved Hippo and Cow.
Or while May sneaks off to experiment with mommy’s makeup or squirt the cheap shampoo all in the sink or build a house of magnets on the kitchen floor.
But here, in this pond,
Outside of the comfort of our home, I wonder why it is so difficult for me to “allow” or “let” my children just BE. Just BE and DO what their impulses intend. (Barring any injury to themselves or others, which of course, is a constant trial and issue in our home.)
They picked up and dropped that poor frog. He got terribly sandy and hopped away several times before playing dead and then being brought back to the pond by two cooperative, excited, eager, and loving little children.
So, I am to remember — I want this to be the norm. I don’t want to bite my tongue in these moments. I want my tongue to think different thoughts. To respect and honor how they explore and do things.
Less “be careful!”
Not just in our home, but outside. At the store. With friends, oh with friends. Less “be careful!” More watching and honoring their intuitions and vulnerabilities and filters. Respecting them as people. Talking to them as people. Cherishing their thoughts and actions as people. Being still and watching my dear ones explore and discover.