11.01.2017

Learning Contentment from My One-Year-Old

When Ash first started playing on his own, I found myself doing that annoying parental thing of announcing every little action. I think they call it "Sportscaster Parenting".

"Look at you pick up that toy, Asher!"

"That's sparkly, isn't it? Are you going to pick it up?" 

"Oh, you're going to chew on it, huh? That's probably not a great idea..."

"You bounced the ball. It's a very bouncy ball isn't it. Oh, and you put the ball in the basket. What else is in the basket?"

While this kind of communication isn't inherently bad--in fact, it can be beneficial--it is unnecessary every single moment. Of every single day.

Worse, this chatter was coupled with a constant introduction of newness. New toys,  new environments, other ways to interact with whatever it was with which he was interacting. 

I wasn't letting him just be. I was getting in the way of his examining the object or event before him. I was defining it. I took from him the ability to create context. He couldn't discover without my narrating it and putting a framework around it that, frankly, didn't need to be there. 

Now that Asher is almost thirteen-months (all the cry faces), I've seen in him (when I get out of the way) an incredible brightness. He is a little scientist, as most babies and toddlers are, and I absolutely marvel at the way he tinkers with things and creatively or practically interacts with his environment. It's in this space--one of free play, open context, and relative safety--that he grows.

It's also in this space that he can stay occupied with a task for fifteen minutes. It doesn't sound like much, but as my fellow mamas can attest, the attention span of these incredible brains is so very short. If I interrupt, so goes his focus. He gets irritable and then goes from thing to thing, throwing or dismissing. And that's my doing. But when he's left alone, he's engaged. He's focused. 

He's content.

Can you imagine my surprise when I realized that this kid, this wobbly little walker with perpetual bed head and an undying love for cheese, was teaching me an incredibly valuable lesson? How often in today's busy world do I bounce from distraction to distraction, task to task, without focusing on anything? Big or small, I'm missing it all. The hours pass by in a blur, and I can't remember accomplishing anything meaningful, or interacting with anyone significantly. 

This is a problem. 

So I'm taking a lesson from Ash and working on blocking out the noise, the chatter--the Facebook, the Insta, the emails, the notifications, the endless barrage of shiny things beckoning us away from what we really care about. Because how can I expect myself to enjoy wonder alongside my baby boy if I can't sit and be?

1 comment: