Slowing Down. Lately when we get downstairs and outside, Elijah takes off running like his life depends on it. Those short little legs can’t even move as fast as he wants to go. He never stays on the path ahead of us. It is almost guaranteed that he will go off into the trees and bushes that surround us as we walk. At first, I would get frustrated when he wouldn’t come out, and when he refused to follow the path. He is not a baby anymore and therefore he now has a mind of his own. Expressing that independent will of his can sometimes result in meltdowns, and that is a normal part of being a parent of a toddler. They can’t communicate with the same ease as us adults do, and they just don’t understand things the same way either.
For this reason I have been allocating time just to go outside for no reason at all. I would often try to combine a stroll outside with some errand that I needed to run, but I have now learned that when we get outside Eli doesn’t know my intentions so getting outside equates to playtime in his mind. Trying to convince him to walk on the path with me must be very agonizing, because all he wants is to run through the grass and among the trees. By giving him more freedom to roam everyday, he is doing better at holding one of our hands and following the path to the gate when we do have a set destination in mind. Another trick that has been working is to just let him lead the way. I let him run around and explore, AND THEN slowly steer him towards the gate to go grocery shopping. Sometimes getting to the gate takes quite a while because he wants to walk along every stone edge, stomp on every draincover, or touch each tree trunk that we pass… but through this all I am reminded to just take life a little slower. I let him explore, forget about the chores waiting back at home, and just enjoy the outdoors. I used to have plenty time to “enjoy my surroundings” but having a child changes that to some extent. Now that he is on his own mission, I only really have to follow to make sure he stays out of danger. Sure, I want to sit on a bench and relax in the sun, but those days will come soon enough. For now, I’ll follow close behind him, and take things slow while enjoying this stage of life.