There is no doubt about it; grandchildren can be exhausting! The older we get, the more exhausting they seem to become. Fortunately, the energy they consume is far outweighed by the lasting images that fill our memory banks long after their departure.
When I close my eyes, one such image comes to mind. It is the image of a little girl, with her back to me, sitting in freshly grown grass, staring fixedly at the bird feeder that she and her younger sister had recently filled. “What is she thinking?” I thought as I observed her from afar. “What could cause this little bolt of energy to put herself on pause and stay fixed for such a long period of time?” For indeed, she had been sitting in one position for several minutes. No sound emanated from her lips. No movement from her little body. She was truly in a world all her own. As I watched her, I thought how intricate the workings of a child’s mind. Each day brings new images that serve to further develop a deeper awareness of nature and all its glory.
As grownups, involved in the complexities of daily life, we are often guilty of not taking the time to appreciate all the wonders that surround our lives. Seeing May lost in her thoughts as she watched birds flutter to take food from the bird feeder then fly off to let other birds have their turn, caused me to put myself on pause and see the wonders of nature with fresh eyes. In an age of extravagant birthday parties for young children, programmed activities to fill after-school time, spending large sums of money on toys, computer software, iPhone apps, and pre-packaged crafts to occupy children while at home, we sometimes lose sight of the importance of taking time to just sit and quietly absorb the sounds and sights of nature’s gifts.
Watching May momentarily lost in her world, brought me back to a time when I led my daughter and her friends on a birthday party nature walk. Equipped with decorated paper bags, we set off to find a variety of leaves, seeds, and flowers as we walked through our neighborhood park. Once back at home, we laid out our treasures, talked about the different kinds of leaves and seeds, and made collages on construction paper. I remember how happy the children were with their finished products and how happy I was to have been able to share my time and knowledge of botany with them. It was a simple party, no great fanfare, just a group of seven-year-olds enjoying a time of discovery and friendship outdoors. Sometimes simple is better.
Childhood is fleeting and our time to enjoy these magical years is even more fleeting as we age. My granddaughters have been inspirational in reawakening me to the benefits and importance of putting myself on pause. In today’s media-entrenched world, where we are immersed in reminders of the chaos surrounding our lives, children offer the elixir for unraveled nerves. We need only to stop and take a few moments to observe the world through their eyes. Thank you May and Eloise for reenergizing my brain to all the good that surrounds us.