I did some volunteer this morning with my investigative 16 month old in tow. What would have taken maybe a quick half an hour took 2 whole eventful hours. There are moments when I can't spare any minutes but usually I try to balance sweeping her from one thing to the next and taking it toddler-tortoise time. And she will take as much as she can get. "No, sweetheart, we are going this way!"
She cautiously stepped up and down any steps she passed. Splashed with delight in any puddle that she saw. Exuberantly pointed at items in the towering store windows. Longingly gazed at garbage that I wouldn't let her pick up. Curiously examined the cracks in the sidewalk. Paused to recite the ABCs (or should I say ABDBs) for any writing she saw. Said "Hello" to passersby, whether they were amiable, oblivious, or unfriendly. How could you be unfriendly to such an adorable face?
In her mind, there was no wasted time. She saw things. Touched things. Explored. We did just what she expected. She has no idea that my list was barely touched. That I had to do an extra load of laundry because of mud puddles. That I was late getting somewhere and it was closed for lunch, making a two block meander pointless. Her purpose is to be a little scientist discovering her world. Cover as much as she can and learn at an absolutely blow-your-mind astonishing rate.
And I am the devoted producer funding the venture. The reliable assistant giving a hand. The strong bodyguard keeping her safe. The friendly chauffeur driving her from event to event. The busy chef nourishing her for the journey. The loving spiritual guide helping her to know faith and peace. The attentive secretary documenting her milestones. The observant photographer capturing the memories. The, um... slacking housekeeper cleaning up her messes. And greatest of all, her dear best friend to experience the multitude of wonders alongside her.
Later in the day I waited, waited, waited to leave the house again after coming home for her nap. She was having a snack. I should say slowly savouring a snack, with many distractions. One was to come over and give me a kiss. How sweet.
Before having a child I thought that this slowing down would be a lot more inconvenient. I'll be honest. The first few months were quite a change and a shocker. Maybe newborns are so consuming so that we have to let go and become selfless. Then, as they age, we can treasure each stage with them because we let go of our own agenda.
I have a list of things I need to do. I know I'll have to allocate much more time for each, and be open to pauses when performing tasks. I am more aggravated with other time-suckers, like a slow Internet or a lost wallet. (Then there is the time lost to remake burnt food. I am horrible at remembering I am cooking.) Baby girl interruptions are quite alright with me. I enjoy slowing down and seeing the world for its physical beauty and diversity instead of my nagging worries and pressing agenda. My girl will only be this little for a short time. Right now, we pause to classify everything. Bear? Tiger? Giraffe? Soon we will stop to answer questions to further understanding. Then will come, "Why?" Learning will continue for a very long time. I, who am also her teacher, want to encourage rather than hinder that.
Right now, as I finish this, we have concluded a very long and sloppy dinner and she is wrestling with dad, who also has stuff to do but is enjoying a moment with her before bed. Then we are going to have a bath. A bath that will be longer than necessary but will be fun. Because it has bubbles and rubber duckies. She knows what matters.