Joey absolutely loves wandering around outdoors now. “Outside! Outside Mama!” is my most oft heard request. We always try to fulfill it even in cold, rain, or snow. However, I have to admit that spring weather makes it a lot easier! We found a little park a block away from us with a series of wide trails through the woods. Joey can roam freely up and down the trails to his great delight, carefully navigating over tree roots and collecting rocks. We listen to birds and keep an eye out for squirrels. It’s just a small park in a suburban area, but we’ll take it.
Today, I took him through the park to get a bagel at the grocery store (another favorite activity of Joey’s). On the way home there is more uphill than down, and he started lagging. I stopped with him for a drink and snack, and taught him to play hide and seek behind a large tree. He quickly assumed the role of hiding (“Bye!”) and popping out (“Peek!”) with great enthusiasm, consumed with giggles. After several iterations, he disappeared behind the tree and fell silent. I couldn’t see him (I knew he was close behind the tree – I would have seen and heard him if he left). Curious, I approached the tree.
Joey was standing inches away from the bark pointing to something. As I came closer, he smiled and said “baby bugs.” I looked too and saw a line of little black beetles climbing up the tree, traveling along the channels in the bark. Joey was absolutely fascinated. He was not touching or harassing the beetles, just watching them. “Beetles” I taught him, and he repeated it promptly. We knelt down and crawled along the leafy ground to follow the line of beetles across the trail and downhill into the woods. I lifted him up to watch them reach higher extents on the tree. Joey calmly watched the beetles for 18 minutes, completely captivated.
He would have stayed longer, but it was nearing lunch time and I urged him to continue home. He stopped at each subsequent tree to check for beetles, even those in our yard. When we got home, Joey collected both of his books featuring bugs and asked where the beetles were in the books. He is so very curious about the little bugs climbing up the tree bark. I looked up beetles on the computer with him so he could see more pictures and identify their eyes and wings.
My job is to be curious, explore, and learn more about the world. Even for me, it was a remarkable reminder to watch a small child discover something new today. We are all curious – we just become too busy to remember it, sometimes.
So once in awhile, stop and think like a child. Look for something you haven’t seen before in a place you visit often. Wonder why it is there and what it is doing. If you need help, just follow the nearest toddler around for half an hour.
Joey is wearing a North Face Reversible Wind Jacket in 24M size, which is perfect for early spring weather in Virginia.