Thursday, April 28, 2011

Exploring the World with a Toddler

With wonder in his eyes...
It's a cold, dreary day in our neck of the woods.  We woke up to torrents of rain, and although the downpour has since subsided, the world is still damp and dismal. 

Trey isn't old enough to remember last year's thunderstorms, so today was essentially his first exposure to the seasonal soakings Pennsylvania residents all know to expect.  He was spellbound by the sheets of rain hitting our balcony; he wanted to touch them, and when he couldn't reach, he wanted to dive off the side - at least, until Donnie actually held him a few inches over the railing.  It turns out, that's just a bit too adventurous for our sporadically cautious toddler.  But still, he was enchanted by the strange new experience of watching a thunderstorm from the safety of his balcony.

Trey's fascination with the heavy rains reminded me of his first walk in the stroller, when he was only a few weeks old.  He was more awake and alert than I could have anticipated, fascinated by the world around him.  And nothing captured his imagination more than the trees.  When I pushed him under a shady alcove of evergreens, he stared up at them with a strange mix of awe, delight, and fear.  He didn't know what to make of the things (creatures?  structures?  monsters?) towering above him.  Were they safe?  Could they touch him?  Hurt him?  Steal him?  How powerful they must be, if they could block out the sun!  What on earth were those things?  Trey was more captivated - more confused - than I had ever seen him.

These days, of course, trees are commonplace.  But my son still marvels at the world around him.  He can spend close to half an hour moving pots and pans in and out of a kitchen cabinet, examining each object with an intensity I can't help but admire.  When I pick him a flower or hand him a spatula, he stretches his fat little hands to grab them as though they are the most precious treasures in the world.  Books, blocks, and puzzles enchant him for hours, whether he's actually playing with them, or just dumping them in and out of baskets.  In other words, Trey's environment is a source of intense wonder and delight, every day.

The world is a magical place for children, and we parents are privileged to explore right beside them.  I find myself looking at things in a whole new way, as Trey and I navigate our own little corner of Pennsylvania.  Garden snakes slithering beneath a rock wall, dandelions peeking out from overgrown lawns, mailboxes shaped like steam locomotives - these things assume a beauty and richness I never knew they had, when I view them alongside my little explorer.

Every day, Trey teaches me something new about the majesty of existence.  And every day, I consider myself the luckiest woman in the world to be learning, playing, and growing by his side.  I've never had this much fun before.  I am so blessed.

I love being a mom.

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