If you are expecting a useful list of tricks and tips to get your little one sleeping from evening until morning then I’m afraid you’re in the wrong place. Equally, if you already know how old my son is and are perhaps expecting a tale of nearly three years of woe and broken sleep and now a glorious celebration of a toddler mastering the full twelve hours of nighttime shut-eye, then I’m sorry to disappoint this is not that post either… Continue reading
As adults we are always thinking all the time; thinking about what’s right and wrong, acceptable or not; thinking about what to have for tea, what we’re doing tomorrow, what we should be doing today. It can all get a bit exhausting. Even more so when you start to consider or, dare I say it, overthink when all this thinking started.
It is with great confidence that I can say it must be some time after toddler-hood. You see I have been observing my son (currently 2 years and 9 months old) and there is a definite lack of exhausting grey matter machination with him:
The first Swifts arrived around our house this week…always a happy time. With their joyous screams and soaring aerial acrobatics they evoke in Andrew and I a contented anticipation of long summer evenings and hazy summer days.
Since becoming pregnant and having a baby the changing seasons and all that they bring have resonated with me so much more than they ever have done before. I’m wondering if I have managed to enter into the horticultural time of baby land…
Andrew and I talked about this a lot before having LJ. We first came across it in one of the books we turned to for support in preparing for the birth…Mindful Birthing by Nancy Bardacke. The concept is, roughly(!), that we live in industrial time with schedules and external demands on our daily and nightly patterns. A baby isn’t yet entrenched in this world of routine so everything about pregnancy and life with a newborn is set to the rhythm of biological needs and primitive demands…the baby lives on horticultural time and therefore a parent is at a great advantage if they can accept and be on horticultural time too!
I don’t know really whether I have successfully done this…actually having a baby has made me realise how much I like routine and knowing what to expect each day and night. But I think having a baby has also forced me to accept that this can’t always be the case in life and that’s ok too. I certainly enjoy the pace of a toddler…the slow walking, the frequent stopping, the sudden burst of energy to rush to a stone, a daisy, a puddle.
So maybe I’ve unlocked my inner toddler and with it a curiosity and enchantment with the natural world. Or maybe in the disorderly world of pregnancy and baby-rearing I have taken comfort in the predictable routine of the turning of the seasons. Or perhaps I have just spent less time at a desk and more time playing outside.
Whatever the reason, we are looking at another season’s change. The returning Swifts are our farewell to spring. And what a glorious spring it has been!
when faces called flowers float out of the ground….
E. E. Cummings
when faces called flowers float out of the ground
and breathing is wishing and wishing is having-
but keeping is downward and doubting and never
-it’s april(yes,april;my darling)it’s spring!
yes the pretty birds frolic as spry as can fly
yes the little fish gambol as glad as can be
(yes the mountains are dancing together)
when every leaf opens without any sound
and wishing is having and having is giving-
but keeping is doting and nothing and nonsense
-alive;we’re alive,dear:it’s(kiss me now)spring!
now the pretty birds hover so she and so he
now the little fish quiver so you and so i
now the mountains are dancing, the mountains)
when more than was lost has been found has been found
and having is giving and giving is living-
but keeping is darkness and winter and cringing
-it’s spring(all our night becomes day)o,it’s spring!
all the pretty birds dive to the heart of the sky
all the little fish climb through the mind of the sea
all the mountains are dancing;are dancing)
As adults we generally spend our lives ‘getting things done’. Our day is spent moving from one job to another, we have aims and purposes, deadlines and commitments. Even when we pencil in relaxation time it is often structured and shaped so that we get the best out of it. More often than not a long slow walk for a grown up is to somewhere or with a particular purpose in mind…perhaps a walk to a viewpoint, through a pretty forest, around a city’s sights, an opportunity to catch up with a friend, listen to music, exercise the dog…
Andrew and I took Little J on our family’s first buggy-free walk the other day. We ventured to the local park and decided to walk around the park to the swings, then back to the car via the cafe.
It started well…Little J waddled free from the car and made a determined beeline for the cross country path that I have only been able to gaze at longingly when there with the pushchair. We then crossed to the park’s outer path in sight of the road and stopped. For there in front of us were vehicles…cars, lorries, motorbikes and best of all, buses…not just one or two, but bus after bus after bus.
And so we pointed, we waved, we tried to say bus, we waved again. After an eternity Little J looked at his little feet and watched them walk him along the path a little further. Until they trod on a leaf and he needed to squat down and investigate the leaf which became leaves, which became stones and twigs and more leaves and then…ooo a dog! And so we watched the dog, we pointed, waved, tried to say dog and waved again.
Andrew and I were having a lovely happy time, but all the while we were chivvying Little J along, reminding him over and over about the swings and enthusiastically encouraging him to come along and follow us.
And then we noticed ourselves doing this and wondered why. Yes we knew Little J would have fun at the swings, but wasn’t he having fun on the path? Of course he was, but our grown up minds had decided that swings would feature as a central activity in our afternoon outing and so we were walking to the swings. Little J was simply walking. Slowly, happily and totally in the moment.
Which is what Little J does all day everyday now I think about it. Even just around the house. Take going downstairs…most of the time he doesn’t really know or care why we’re going downstairs, and if he knew at the top, he’s forgotten by the bottom. Each step is an adventure…he notices something new or appreciates something familiar along the way. He finds great enjoyment in clutching the banister, he watches his foot slide on the carpet, sits on his bottom, looks back up the stairs, makes faces in the mirror on the wall, points at the pictures in the hall and ‘tells’ me how high the ceiling is.
To stop and slow down is a wonderful ‘talent’ and to be living alongside someone for whom this talent is still inbuilt feels like a wonderful gift.
So Andrew, Little J and I did make it to the swings the other day…and to the cafe….and back to the car! We were lucky enough to have time in our grown up schedule to be on a toddler schedule that day. Well almost, we really did need Little J to go a little bit quicker on the way back to the car as darkness was setting in. We landed on some strategies to speed things up while still having fun…we followed dogs, bikes and pushchairs until they disappeared in the middle distance; one of us ran on ahead and hid for Little J to find us in far off trees. And when all else failed we pulled out the bubbles. Get the right wind direction and blowing technique and your toddler will be off at speed toward your destination chasing bubbles.
So I’m keeping the bubbles in my coat pocket for now just in case, but mostly I’m going to enjoy being in the moment with Little J. I’ve realised that taking long slow walks to nowhere in particular is my new favourite thing!