We sit in the dirt, playing with the leaves and the peppercorns from the pepper tree. We came out to swing, but today the beloved swing cannot compare to playing in the dirt.
This summer my grandson went on his first camping trips. Apparently scooting around in the dirt (he’s a scooter, not a crawler) is about as exciting as life can get. So today, it is all about playing in the dirt and the leaves.
We sit together, silently. Very carefully he examines each leave and particle of mulch as if it were some sort of mysterious treasure. I break big sticks into smaller pieces because the grandmother in me is convinced that if he gets ahold of anything longer than a few inches, he will immediately jam it in his eye.
He watches me curiously and then tries to put the pieces of stick back together again. Putting things together is a favorite pastime; lids on containers, tops on bottles. There is no way to explain to him that in the material world a broken stick cannot be put back together, and so I watch silently and do not judge.
After 20 minutes, he points to the swing and I think our dirt exploration is over, but two minutes into swinging he points to the other side of the driveway where he has spotted not only more dirt and leaves, but also rocks! So we move to that part of the yard, and start playing in the dirt and leaves, breaking sticks and trying to put them back together again.
When it’s naptime he wails, bemoaning his fate. He is being unjustly torn away from his beloved rocks, dirt and leaves. To console him I put him in the laundry room sink to wash his hands and feet. The only thing MORE fun then dirt and leaves is playing with running water, so it works like a charm. Soon he is sound asleep. Does he dream of broken sticks that CAN be put back together again?
When I lie down that night fondly recalling the day, I suddenly remember another day 30 years ago. My daughter is a little more than one-year-old, the same age my grandson is now, and she is sitting on the ground. It’s a shady spot and there is moss everywhere that she finds endlessly fascinated. We sit for a long time while she runs her tiny hands through the soft moss, intrigued by the texture and feel of it. I lie in bed and smile at the memory.
I have never thought of that day until now. How many other precious moments were forgotten in the hustle bustle of life? I tell myself that if I had it do all over again, I would pay attention to every single moment of her childhood, treating each as the precious gift that it was. But of course I know that would be impossible. Still it’s nice to dream.