A stomach bug is currently trying to take over our household, and as completely miserable as that is (seriously, how utterly lousy is a stomach bug??) the forced break and sort of “reset” on life is timely and important. Tegan was sad to have missed a fun field trip on Friday, I had to cancel plans with a friend yesterday, and finally accepting the inevitable, we cleared the calendar for today as well.
For the moment, we’re home. As long as we need.
We’ve been busy lately. A good busy… but busy nonetheless. A friend recently asked me what we’d been so busy doing, and I didn’t have an immediate answer. It’s just been an active season all across the board. More playdates, more field trips, more activities, more plans. Which always leads to a not-so-subtle reminder of the importance of living in the moment. Otherwise, I make myself crazy.
There was a time when even two things scheduled in the same day would stress me out. I couldn’t enjoy a playdate in the morning, because my head was too wrapped up in thinking about getting them to gymnastics in the afternoon. Oh but these kids, especially Tegan… if they’ve taught me anything, it’s that I can’t live that way. Life is in the moments, not in the plans.
Last week, the kids helped me wash the car. Tegan had been asking for awhile, and it’s finally been hot enough to want to get wet lately.
One of the girl’s favorite things to do after we wash the car is to put on our shoes, and follow the water down the street. Like a stomach bug, but without the misery and ick, that walk always serves as a little time-out from life. We chat and laugh and follow the stream (sometimes walking in the stream) as it goes to the end of our street, around the corner, across to the other side, and down down down along the curb until it finally stops – usually spreading into a thin little pool in the cement wash between two of our neighbor’s houses. We stand and watch while it reaches out and eventually disappears, thin little fingers of water evaporating in the sun.
This most recent time, our water walk took even longer than usual, because she stopped to examine some ants along the way.
We’d had plans that morning, and plans later again that day, but right then, in that moment… the only thing that mattered was following the water and watching the ants. That’s it. Not to-do lists, not errands, not playdates, not field trips, not yoga classes.
Water and ants. A happy girl, a moment, and a memory.
And I think that when you strip it all down, beneath all the flowery language and philosophical soap-boxing, all my parenting and unschooling advice can be summed up in those few words:
Follow the water. Watch the ants.
Say yes. And be there, with your whole heart.
I have regrets as a parent to be sure. Things I wish I’d done differently. Things I wish I’d said “yes” to. Things I wish I would have researched more carefully and didn’t say yes to. But I have no doubts that I will never, ever regret taking the time to follow the water and watch the ants.