November 16, 2013

Letting Brex set the pace

This morning, I took Brex to the zoo so that Appa could write in peace.

Jrex is working on a review paper. He's a week behind schedule with future deadlines for talks and papers looming ahead of him. I don't know how to help him choose to set aside time to relax. The only helpful thing I know to do is make room for him to get his work done and not add to his stress. The downside is that Brex doesn't expect Appa to be a part of his usual weekend experience. "Appa at work" is one of his most common phrases. As Brex would put it, "So sad... Sad face..."

At the zoo, we didn't have a set agenda, yet it was somehow hard for me to just relax and let Brex do what he wanted to do. For example, we only rode the $2 kiddie train one time. It went around a little asphalt track, there were no animals in sight and it was over in less than 4 minutes. If he'd had his way, we'd have been on it for at least 3 more rounds. I couldn't take the bang for the buck ratio—or lack thereof, so I was mean mommy and made him go look at the reptile house instead.

The other factor in feeling rushed was needing to hit the bathroom before and after each stop along the way. Brex is officially potty trained, but it's rare he makes it through the day in the same pants. By now, we've got the routine down in public restrooms: I put the seat up, stand him on the rim of the toilet, pull his pants and underwear down, let him do his thing, pull his clothes back on, put him down, put the seat down, take my turn and we're done. EXCEPT then we have to survive his hand washing drama--let's just say it's full of "Brex do it!" and involves countless variations on faucets, soap dispensers and paper towels contraptions. In other words, in a four hour excursion, probably one hour of that time was spent in a bathroom.

At the end of the trip, when we were finally heading home—only one hour past his usual nap time—he saw an elephant fountain. There were five smallish bronze elephants surrounded by a moat of water. The water surface was lined with floating bubbles and fallen leaves. Brex zoomed over to it with a huge grin. As I was about to hustle him along, I paused. Everyone keeps reminding me how fleeting this time is and to enjoy it.

So, instead of insisting, "Time to go home!", I sat down 10-feet away and just watched. He didn't seem to care where I was. Rather, he lay down on the ground with his arms over the water and popped
bubbles. After two dabs, he sat up, pulled his sleeves up over his elbows and lay back down. Next he started grabbing leaves out of the water and shaking them. Then he stood up and started doing full-body throws to fling the leaves into the water. He'd then kneel down and reach to grab the leaf back and then start the jack-knife throw again. Various groups gathered at the fountain to take family pictures in their journey into or out of the zoo. My son neither noticed nor cared as he stood, flung, knelt, grabbed and stood again in joy.

At one point a slightly older girl in an all-pink outfit sat down on the bench right next to him. He was excited to show off for her. In delight, he placed a BIG wet leaf right on her lap. She flung it off and looked at him in disgust as she moved further down the bench. He was crestfallen and started to look around. That's when he finally looked for me. When he spotted me, he called out, "Mommy, get up! Get up!"

I smiled and joined him at the pond. He wanted my full participation and directed it. He gave me a leaf, told me, "Throw it, Mommy, throw it!" I did. "Get it, Mommy, get it!" I'd interject, "Say please, buddy"

"Mommy, please get it!"

When I tried to sit facing away from the fountain, Mr. Imperious demanded, "Turn around, Mommy!" I had to enjoy it the exact same way he had. We finally wrapped it up with a few rounds of, "Say bye bye to the elephants. Bye bye leaves. Bye bye water."

He was a crabby mess by the time I finally got him down for his nap at 2:30 (2-hours late). Yet later that day, while chatting on speaker phone with Aunt OTRsis, when she asked what he did at the zoo, he answered, "Saw elephants! Throw leaves!"

I need to remember to allow for leaf throwing time. To let our days unfold without imposing an unnecessary agenda. To sink into a moment and let it become a world. To feel the joy that's available anytime I stop long enough to let it in. Why is something so simple so difficult for me to remember?

When is the last time you threw leaves?

May we all find room this week for something small that becomes a door to the infinite. Thanks, Buddy, for the reminder.

1 comment:

Rachel said...

I love this post. Kids are great at helping us live in the moment, if we let them. I remember when Kate was a toddler, a walk around the block could take an hour. Toddlers are like little scientists, investigating how the world works, and letting them do that is really important to their development.