This week I watched -- on two separate days -- my sister's and sister-in-law's kids for a bit. Both have toddler and/or pre-school age kiddos among their broods, and in both situations I was caring for them away from my own home. (Home just wasn't an option this week as they were paving our street!) This meant that I was able to focus totally on the kids and not be distracted by the things that needed to be done around my home.
I found myself walking through the park at a much more leisurely pace. I found myself putting together a 25 piece puzzle . . . for a long time. I helped little ones climb, I read stories in my best little bear or little deer voice (as necessary) and took it very seriously when I learned that the Cabbage Patch doll was called Boolah and the stuffed deer was named Window.
I marveled at these little people, finding joy and delight in the slower pace. It felt good to sit on the floor and look at books (well, that is, until my back and knees started to complain), to watch chubby little legs clamber up the playground equipment, to clap when a little one zipped down the slide. It's been a while since I've clapped at the bottom of a slide.
Since then I've been thinking over two things. One is this: I know there are many of you reading this who are in the trenches right now. You have little ones and everything seems both slow and fast and you're not sure if you can stand reading that book (that you now have memorized) for the twenty-fourth time today. Your voice is sore, you have spit-up and snot on your shoulder, you know the dishes are waiting in the sink and you're not sure what's for dinner or whether or not you'll have time to take a shower.
But you are doing the right thing. Every time you look into your child's eyes, every time you sit down on the floor and roll a matchbox car across your child's leg and giggle together, you're doing the right thing. Every time you read another book, color another page, smile over another fistful of dandelions, wipe up another spill, you're doing the right thing. You will never regret slowing down for your child.
The other thing I've been thinking is this: For those of us no longer in this season, we would do well to remember it -- it doesn't keep. We would do well to remember how good it is to connect with our children in intentional ways. To seek out specific experiences that help maintain the bond that was forged long ago, when our days were filled with Goodnight Moon readings, Thomas the Tank Engine adventures and stuffed animals named Cake and Chair. Because this, too, is the right thing. This intentionality wherever we are, this slowing down and looking into our child's eyes -- even if the eyes happen to be on a body that is taller than our own.
Because we will never regret slowing down for our children.
One good deed is worth more than a thousand brilliant theories. Let us not wait for large opportunities, or for a different kind of work, but do just the things we "find to do" day by day. We have no other time in which to live . . . we never shall have any time but time present.