On Friday, I had the day off. Kim was working, so I had LB with me all day. Usually, this would mean the two of us vegging out in the living room (him playing, me watching Scrubs and hoping he'd fall asleep so I could take a nap).
This time, though, we had obligations. BB had a "Mini Marathon" field day at his school, and we wanted to go see him run. We also decided to have lunch with him there, and there was an assembly for the field day runners in the afternoon. That meant I was supposed to be at the school at 9:00, 11:30, 1:30, and then at 3:05 to pick him up.
Now, travel time from home to the school is only about 10 minutes, so it would have been easy for me to shuttle back and forth all day. Except that would be a lot of wasted time and fuel. So I decided to put LB in the stroller and walk around the neighborhood between the run and lunch.
There's not much to do that's close to the school. I thought about walking to a library, but the closest one is the Genealogy Center, not really conducive to toddler entertainment. I walked aimlessly for a bit, and then I remembered that there was some greenspace between a church nearby and the highway barrier, so we headed over there, and I took him out and let him walk around in the grass. We played with sticks and leaves and rocks, and he got to teach himself to get on his feet in the grass, even though he didn't like how it felt on his hands at first.
I was reminded of something Colin Beavan (the No-Impact Man) said recently when asked about the biggest surprise from his experiment:
The change of rhythm. Whether hopping in taxis or talking on your cell phone, everything is a big rush. Even on a Saturday, which is supposed to be one of the rest days, you're like okay, I'll have brunch with you at ten, and then I'll head up to the MoMa at noon, and then some friends are having a party for the kids at three, and then you guys are having a dinner at seven.
We just can't move that fast on our bikes and by walking. At first you think you're losing out, but on a weekend day basically we can do one big thing and we savor it much more. That was kind of surprising to me.
As we sat there, I could actually feel the world slow down. We watched the cars go by on the highway for a bit. We saw a train. We went over to a very large and battle-scarred tree, and LB got to feel the trunk and touch the ground underneath. I thought of the thousands of people who pass that spot every day and never even glance at that tree, which certainly predates the highway, and probably the state of Oklahoma.
It's something that has to impress itself on me every once in awhile. "Quality Time" with the kids doesn't have to involve a planned activity, or even any activity at all. It's about stopping the flow of the everyday and focusing on them. Watching LB laugh and cry and explore and learn was the highlight of my month. Maybe even my year.
Today's moral, stop and smell the flowers, people. Even if they're growing by the interstate. It's worth the time.