As I drove home, K-LOVE playing on the radio, I heard Renee Swope tell a story about her daughter. Renee started off by talking about how external circumstances too often affect her mood. One she mentioned was the weather. One dreary, rainy day, she was hoping for sunshine to cheer her up. She then noticed her daughter Aster, whom she had recently adopted from Ethiopia, staring out the window, amazed at all the raindrops falling. Aster was about 11 months old, and for her, everything was so new and fascinating. Renee discussed how much of a positive impact that moment had on her.
Renee’s story reminded me of an experience with my daughter, who was 17 months old at the time. I took Margaret out to play with her cousins. It was wet and muddy, and I thought good grief she’s going to be a mess.
Margaret had an absolute blast running around the open area in the field. At one point, she was navigating a slight decline. She fell down, but was able to stand back up without using her hands. When going back up the hill, she fell and had to catch herself with her hands. Margaret looked at her hands, wet and dirty. She started to fuss because she realized that the only way she was going to get back up was if she put her hands on the ground, which would get them even dirtier and wetter. Nevertheless, it was worth it to her, so she pushed herself back up. She then continued to run around, fall down, and make a big mess.
I realized in that moment how important it was for her to be messy and explore because she was learning so much about herself and the world around her. I stopped seeing the circumstances through my eyes and began seeing them through hers. She was living in the moment and soaking it in.
For these first two years, I’ve been amazed to see Margaret’s fascination with the world and to watch her learn. Every day brings a new and exciting experience to her, and I get to be a part of every discovery.
Watch your kids closely. See how they look around. Notice how they navigate their surroundings. Children are constantly learning, and we can learn so much from them.