Unexpected Teachers

A few nights ago, Nate and I were watching a movie on the couch. We took what we call a “second dinner” break about half way through. As we walked to the kitchen, we nonchalantly looked outside to find everything completely white – it had snowed a good two inches in the last hour. We’d seen snow on the forecast, but thought we’d get more of a dusting, if any at all.

Just like that, our giddy selves were kids again. The two of us bundled up and ran out in the backyard. To make a long [sub]story short, late night snowball fights are something everyone should experience. Nate and I have both agreed that memory will never be forgotten.

We woke up the next morning to find that all of our footprints from our snowball shenanigans the night before had been completely “whited” out – yes, 6 more inches of snow.

Needless to say, we’ve had a lot of time indoors the last few days. At first I was a little nervous; there’s something a little unsettling about being trapped inside with a high-energy 17 month old.

Something about the pressure to fill roughly 9 waking hours of a busy, high-energy, small-attention-spanned-brain with some sort of entertainment.

Don’t get me wrong; this has been the most fun stage so far of parenting, but it has also been the most challenging. The irony of a tiny human gaining increasing amounts of independence every day is that in that process, they are actually extremely dependent and needy.

[Quick eFullSizeRender-1xample: Lucy is convinced that she can eat all by herself with silverware now. But her idea of that is me placing her food and utensils in front of her and letting her stir the food and ask for help in between each bite. It actually takes more of my time, energy, and patience for her to learn to eat with these tricky utensils (independence in this stage) than it does for her to just keep eating with her hands the way that she already knows how to do very well.]

All of this to say, the combination of being 1) cooped up in the house all day and 2) an ambitious, growing toddler has been an altogether fun, exhausting, frustrating, sobering, reflective experience.

The hard parts of parenting, or life in general for that matter, tend to be the ones I deter from. It’s much easier to throw Lucy in the car and run some errands to kill time in a day than it is to sit on the ground and play with her and consciously open my mind and imagination to enter her world, to see life through her eyes, to be with her as we play blocks or read books or practice for the millionth time what a doggie says. What a kitty cat says. What a bird says. What a cow says. {Repeat.}

But having the privilege – yes, privilege – to be smacked in the face with those indoor activities for three days straight has been extremely invigorating and exactly what I’ve needed in this tricky season of toddlerhood. Instead of needing her to just learn faster or communicate more clearly or better understand what I’m trying to teach her, I’ve needed a perspective check.

Thank you, snow, for being an excellent teacher.FullSizeRender-2

It’s exactly what Lucy needed, too. And it’s what she still needs every day as her mind is developing and growing and changing.

She needs time. She needs attention. She needs my presence – not just physically, but mentally. She needs me to be all there, seeking to better understand what she’s trying to communicate because for goodness’ sake, she’s just trying to learn how to be a human. That is no easy task for her, either.

And if I’m being real, I’m still learning too.

And if I’m being really real, I’m still pretty needy too. I need my most valued loved ones and mentors to be present and hold me accountable, too.

This is what it means to be human: Real love. Active love. Involved love. Messy love.

Young and old.

Because being human doesn’t just mean being able to operate eating utensils. Or being potty trained. Or learning the social graces of living in a society.

Those are all large parts, yes. But to say that’s what it means to be fully human would be to say that efficiency in life is the ultimate goal. And I’ve been learning lately that that’s just not the case.

Or it shouldn’t be, at least.

Thanks snow. Your timing was perfect.

FullSizeRender

 

 

Alex Hanson

Wife to Nate, mommy to Lucy.

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *