The kids and I spent the morning at the park yesterday, twirling, digging and running around making sounds only puppies can hear. Well, the kids did that. I, on the other hand, stretched out luxuriously in the shade, sipped on ice water and made sweat look fashionable. I handed out snacks and drinks, and occasionally got up to help the kids reach the monkey bars so they could hang motionless, like sacs of skinny potatoes, before dropping and rolling dramatically across the ground. The thrill is in the fall, I suppose.
About half an hour after we arrived, I noticed a dad and his little boy walking together through the sand. The boy, who couldn’t have been much more than a year, clutched his father’s finger while he teetered and wobbled about, eyes wide with wonder. Every ten steps or so the boy would stop and sit, and his dad would sit down with him. They quietly explored the sand in front of them. Ran their hands through the soft grit; dug their heels in and pushed it around. Then they were up and off again, this time towards a rock. It was slow going, unhurried and beautiful. The little boy plopped himself down in front of the rock; his dad slowly lowered himself to the ground beside him. They examined the rock with their fingers, poking and patting it, their heads bent together in private exploration. Lost in their own world, they were oblivious to the other children running around them. It struck me then what was happening. This father was seeing the park through his son’s eyes. He was experiencing it in that sweet simple way that children do, and was clearly just as enchanted with it as his son.
I remembered what it was like to experience the park that way with my own kids. The pace was slower, the joy was effortless. I glanced over at my children who were working hard to build a mountain together. The two older boys working feverishly to build it up to monster proportions, and my daughter secretly taking out scoops of sand and pouring them slowly into her shoes. They were occupied and entertained; their faces awash with the magic of the moment. They didn’t need me to dig with them, but I knew that if did, some of their magic might wear off on me.
I left the blanket and joined them. And it was delightful.