It’s a Small World

It was me and my three-year-old against the grocery store today. I’m certain that we stopped to look at every item on every shelf while we were there. “Look, mom,” she giggled as she shook the snow globe on the shelf, fascinated by the falling snowflakes. I concentrated on my shopping list and hurried her along through every aisle, pretending to notice all of the treasures she found along the way. Looking at my watch, I stood by as she picked up a handful of rocks in the parking lot. She then threw the pebbles, one by one, into the nearby ditch and watched as each floated downstream.

My little girl didn’t utter a word as she concentrated on the floating pebbles, yet, her bright, dark eyes spoke to my soul. When did my life stop being so spontaneous and fascinating? I don’t remember it happening, but I somehow became one of those rushing, busy adults controlled by two metal hands rotating around the clock. When was the last time I stopped to smell the flowers, or even glimpsed at them as I rushed in and out of the bank? When did I stop noticing the color of the leaves and the sound of the birds?  When did I stop being amazed by the world around me: when did I stop asking questions?

“Wait for me,” I mutely called out to my toddler as she suddenly dashed for the car. “What’s your hurry? I don’t want to be a grown up today: I want to be YOU. I want to giggle with excitement over the Halloween decorations and make a new friend every time I visit McDonalds. I want to think about where the water goes after it rains and collect interesting rocks in the playground. Can I count the worms on the sidewalk after the rainstorm and help you chase that monarch butterfly? Will you introduce me to your imaginary friend named Mickey Mouse? Maybe together we could plant that apple seed in your pocket to see if a fruit tree sprouts up overnight. Will you teach me where to find that magical curiosity shining in your eyes?”

“Where are we going now?” my daughter asks as I latch the buckle on her carseat. I grasp her tiny hand and tell her that I want to be just like her–if and when I ever grow up. “Brinley,” I reply. “Let’s take the long way home so we can stop and look at that scarecrow on the neighbor’s porch and count the pumpkins in the neighborhood. Let’s forget the real, big, crazy world of mine and just spend a few minutes in yours. Maybe we could go back to the grocery store later, just the two of us. We’ll leave the list at home and get one of those little carts so you can drive”. We can buy one of those caramel apples you were eyeing in the produce section. We’ll stop to look at the brightly colored Popsicle boxes in the freezer and taste the free samples of chocolate milk and potato chips, just for fun.”

Brinley isn’t really listening to me but is busy talking to Mickey Mouse about the shape of the clouds and the color of the flowers in the nearby field.  I catch the lump in my throat as I whisper: “maybe this time we can count the snowflakes as they fall inside that snow globe on the shelf.”

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