The backseat brain

This post is not about my willingness to ruin various mealtimes with treats and is about how refreshing it is to hang out with children.  Somewhere along the lines here I mentioned a conversation that I had with my cousin about no longer saying “I can’t imagine” in every day conversation because it’s not really true and it’s so limiting in its scope. Hanging out with children only drives that point home, and it’s wildly humbling to realize how much I miss it. I think that I’m creative and then I watch Asher, or any other child, for  three minutes and realize that my brain is basically a barren prairie of creative prairie dog holes by comparison.

Asher1

So the muffin. Asher was cruising along in the backseat the other day, working on a pumpkin muffin and within minutes I hear him saying, “We have to get our tools to dig that giant raisin out of the raisin cave that it’s stuck in!” and then he told me that his finger was the excavator and went to town making digger noises and digging out the giant raisin from its raisin cave. Once that job was done, he starting taking strategic bites until he had fashioned what looked to him like an airplane and proceeded to fly it into his own mouth. This lead to the demolition of the ‘wings’ (as you can imagine, the airplane shape was highly interpretive) and he announced that his muffin now looked like a boulder which lead to a conversation about how rocks can be shaped like anything. In the time that it took to eat a muffin, Asher did a little spelunking, visited a job site, flew through some clouds, and rolled down a hill, all coupled with a completely uninhibited narrative along the way.

Asher2

The thing about living with kids is that we assume that they’re trying to find a place in our world when really, we’re the ones that are getting constantly invited into theirs. I think that my biggest shortcoming as a parent is my persistent desire to manipulate Asher’s day into the blueprint of mine, and without fail, I am reminded that if I just slow down a little, not only does the mind numbing back and forth quiet down, but I get to bear witness to the kind of life that I dream of leading. I would give almost anything to have a day in the imagination land of a three-year-old right now, to see airplane wings in my breakfast, to be able to use my voice to make as many interesting and funny sounds without fear of what anyone might think, to compulsively turn a slow minute into one filled with play. (And who am I kidding? To be forced to take a daily nap.) Where my brain is filled with what ifs and petty thoughts and numbers and self doubt, I can see so clearly in Asher’s eyes that his mind is only filled with absorbing the lights and colors and sounds around him and then using that information to entertain and discern and question.

This is why it’s such a delight to give children something new. It’s why I want to give him muffins and books and toys and sticks and big boxes filled with mailing popcorn, why we take him in the woods and wait patiently as he jumps into the pool again and again and again. Not just because we like seeing his eyes light up or because it’s easy to pacify him, but because I can hand him a rock and in turn he hands me an entirely new perspective…if I’m willing to see it. Lately I feel like I’ve been short on patience and long on the sound of my own voice, so I’m trying to follow his lead back to that place of wonder. Of course my record’s not going to be perfect, but as the far fetched parenting ideals go, I would like the idealism to go down as the majority.

We all know it, but for the record? Kids have it going on. Us tall types are the ones that need to turn our listening ears on.

Here’s to a weekend of play. Of quiet grown up mouths and little kid dreams.