Back in the spring I read a little column in the April 2010 issue of Real Simple magazine that was called, “Letting Your Toddler Set the Pace.” In it, Dean Bakapoulos talked about something called “Toddler Time.” It’s those moments when you actually embrace the moment for what it is and travel at the speed of a toddler. The author focused on the simple event called “Taking a Walk” as he described the difference between walking for speed versus walking for pleasure. When our little ones are allowed to set the pace, what happens? We go slower, we pause to look at things more, we notice the ants and the trickle of water and the blades of grass. Sometimes we make it all the way to the end of the block, other times we get half that far, spending the same amount of time either way.
By nature, Jason is good at this and I have always imagined myself as a parent who tries to be present, truly present in the life of my little boy. I may not be as energetic as I would have been if I came into motherhood at the age of twenty-five but I like to think that I am wiser than I was if it were twenty years ago. It took us 16 years of marriage to finally get to add a child to our family picture. Surely all of my life’s experiences bring something to the table even if the number of chases around the kitchen island that I can do (especially now!) remains unfortunately low.
But as much as I feel like I am trying to focus on enjoying the everyday moments that make up this thing called parenting, I found this article resonating in a way that surprised me. I had to admit that before I got ill, Cole’s and my walks were all about distance. I was focused on getting MY exercise and therefore, we had a goal to reach. A finish line to cross.
I know that he liked these walks but as I read those few short paragraphs, I wondered if perhaps he would enjoy them more if I took the author’s advice and tried a little Toddler Time instead, focusing on his agenda which included pushing the stroller instead of riding in it, examining the neighbor’s dirt pile, and squatting down to inspect the potato bug that rolled up with just one simple poke from his little finger.
After that, we started going slower on our walks. And in the process, I learned for myself about this treasure called Toddler Time.
I’m reminded of that article once again as I look out the window of my mother-in-law’s home. Cole and Grandma are walking around the house. Again. Across the patio, over the grassy patch to the gravel walkway. Down the stone steps to the rocks at the bottom that are 3″ off the ground – perfect for jumping from when you are 20 months old. Then back up the steps, around the side of the house to the driveway and onto the patio where some chasing and laughing and giggling are bound to take place.
They’ve been doing this for about 25 minutes and have made it around the house twice so far. In the meantime, Cole is discovering and experiencing things about his world while Grandma is discovering them right along with him. Toddler Time. It’s happening right before my eyes and makes me love Coleman…and his grandma…even more than I already do.