We walk a lot. Mostly we walk to get from one place to another. Namely, from our house to 1. The grocery store 2. The Parenting Center 3. The park 4. The Children’s Library 5. The bakery for a berry brioche.
I put both kiddlets in my beloved double stroller, and off we go. I walk at a deliciously adult pace, blithely ignoring all but a small fraction of the interesting things we walk through. Often the Toddler asks to walk, and I let her out on the condition that she actually walk, as in keep walking. “We actually need to get to the ______.” I say in my oh-so-important-grown-up-voice. This more or less makes no difference, by the way. If she’s out of the stroller, we’re meandering. But with an impatient mama. Which is annoying to both of us. And then I am constantly looking for an opportunity to get her back into the stroller. Oh wickedness.
So, at least once or twice a week, I try to make sure we take a Kid Walk. This means, I go out the door with nothing in mind. No place to get, no thing to do. She gets to be the leader. I follow and make my best effort to be half as interested in the world as she is. Occasionally, if she’s in a running mood, we might make it around the block. Other times we don’t make it to the end of our street.
I don’t get to say any kind of hurry things until it’s time to turn around. In fact, I try not to say much of anything. For her to truly lead us, I have to keep my trap shut with all the grown-up leading questions I might ask safely inside. Once out the door and on the sidewalk, I try hard not to ask which direction she wants to go, that would imply we need to go a direction. I just wait, and watch.
Lise of In the Purple House has been doing a series on getting outside every day with kids. I have really been enjoying it! She’s got a great way of expressing the wonder kids have for the world. I suspect she finds it easy to play with kids this way, just as My Man does. But for the record, and to encourage any other mamas out there like myself, I will admit to the fact that I don’t. I find it really very difficult to slow down to kid-pace. I get bored. Yes, I will admit it, playing bores me. My mind wants to keep jumping around to Things I Could and Should Be Doing. It fidgets. It plans. It fantisizes. Anything to keep out of the subject at hand, which is to say– the here and now.
All the more reason, right? It’s not just like meditation, it is meditation. If I could do it, that is. If I could really slow down and open my soulself up to the world the way my babes do. But it’s good practice. Maybe someday… though my life only seems to spiral away from that quiet place.
Although I like to think I would have come to the Kid Walks on my own, I must credit a good friend for the idea of an unspoken follow-the-leader game. When the Toddler hit two (err, I mean, Two) and the epic, twice daily, 40 minute screaming sessions commenced like clockwork, I pled for advice of any kind. And my best mama advisor, who thinks in a very ’cause not symptom’ kind of way, recommended doing “even just 15 minutes a day” of imitating the Toddler. Reversing the roles we usually play. Watching her every move, and trying to follow suit. I loved the idea. Made perfect sense to me that her screaming fits had to do with feeling powerless, and therefore anything I could do to help her feel powerful would be great.
But oh! How can it be so hard?!?! I never even came close to fifteen minutes a day. I did however try to infuse my general parenting with a sense of following her lead whenever possible. And the Walks. Somehow I find it a bit easier to follow when we are outside. More to distract my high-needs brain I guess.
And did it help? Who knows. Maybe? Her twice daily fits did fade out after about a month. Now they’re more occasional. But like I said, considering how inconsistently I managed to pull it off, I’m not sure I can credit the following game.
What I know for sure is, she loves it. And I do too, after the sluggish/forceful start, and before the squirrel-brain-boredom, I do get to share a few moments of blissful wonder. Absolutely worth it.