In last week’s tongue-in-cheek post I shared lessons I’d learned from my children. Marija left a comment sharing some of the lessons she’d learned. One of them was that rocks and pine cones are treasures to collect, and the fact that they’re everywhere doesn’t diminish their preciousness, it just makes the collections grow larger. I laughed out loud as I read that, because I have experienced this phenomena myself on many occasions. My children like to collect rocks, leaves, sticks, little bits of moss, and so on. Each item they add to their collection is precious in their eyes, and cannot, under any circumstances, be parted with.
It’s actually kind of miraculous, the way that children look at the world without prejudice. They don’t have the experience to know what is considered valuable and rare, and what is considered ordinary. For them, a dandelion rates on the same level as a rose, or maybe even higher because dandelions don’t have thorns and you can blow their lacy seeds into the wind. They’re seeing the world with new eyes, and they find wonder in places that adults overlook.
Hannah’s crow embroidery
Sometimes it’s hard to see the miracle through the tedium, however. For example, when my daughter Hannah was in kindergarten her class studied crows. They learned crow facts, sang crow songs, read crow books, built scarecrows in their classroom, and held a crow party. It was a lovely, holistic, child-directed unit, and I was thrilled that she had a teacher who did that kind of thing. However, every time we saw a crow we had to stop and marvel over it. She asked me to take dozens of photos of each bird with my phone. The walk home from school doubled in length, as we treated crow sightings in the way adults might treat celebrity sightings. It didn’t take me long to be sick of crows.
My son Jacob is four years old and he has a thing for drinking fountains. He loves drinking fountains. We must stop at every drinking fountain we pass, so that he can take a drink. And if we’re visiting a place that has a drinking fountain, we have to stop off for a drink both when we arrive and when we leave. On the upside, he’s drinking water, and he’s being environmentally friendly. On the downside, it’s kind of awkward to hoist a preschooler up to the correct drinking fountain height with one hand, while operating the fountain with the other. It’s even more awkward when he wants to do it by himself, and you have to help him without letting on that you’re helping him, because you’re not up to having an argument as he dangles in mid-air from your arm, which is feeling his weight more with each second that passes.
Luckily this particular drinking fountain is very kid-friendly
It really is amazing to watch children who are enthralled by all the ordinary details of the world. It reminds you of the beauty that lurks everywhere. And yet as I add yet another pine cone to the nature shelf, or I snap yet another photo of a crow, I sort of wish that they would get over it already. If childhood is full of wonder, parenthood is full of ambivalence. I am in awe, and I am bored. And underneath it all I wonder if one day, when I live in a house without a stick collection and I never have to stop at drinking fountains if I don’t want to, whether I’ll miss it or just feel relieved.
What ordinary things are your kids enchanted by? Do they have any collections that threaten to take over your home? And how do you feel about it all? I want to know!