Editor’s Note: This is a post in the series, Simplicity in Action.
Taking a toddler on a car trip can be a bit challenging. You build in stops and look for everything possible to point out along the way. Moving clouds take on interesting shapes. “Hey, that looks like a big ball of cotton; it looks like a snow mountain.” The sun going down prompts some keen examining and discussion of a sky streaked with pale oranges and lavender. Those motorcycles wizzing by scream out vavoom, vavoom.
Rachel giggles at my imitation of their sound. That keeps her going for a couple of minutes as I intermittently jerk my head around with a surprise shout of VOOM!
We make a stretch and pit stop. Who would think there would be anything to a stop other than a few minute break outside the car? But I was guided to the world according to Rachel. And our gas station stop became a nature feast. First there were all the pebbles she found off to the side. She lined them up and we counted them. There were twigs and branches in the dirt and those became great to throw into the grassy area. There was dirt to play in and bottle caps to discard. And there were ants to watch as they carried away crumbs of food.
A ledge surrounding the gas station store enticed Rachel to take my hand and walk all along it. One foot placed directly in front of the other, she practiced walking her balance beam.
And then came in the noise-makers. A shiny red one, a black one and few more vavoomed their way to a halt. As their riders got off I was pulled over to check out these funny-looking things. She wanted to get up close and touch them. So we had a motorcycle examination moment until the riders came back out smiling at the little spectator. They revved up and off they went, leaving me to realize we needed to get back in our car and continue on our way as well. A quick bathroom stop in the store presented Rachel with an opportunity to practice her food vocabulary and label lots of familiar packages. With only three short aisles, it took an extra few minutes to identify what she wasn’t getting – the chips, candy and soda bottles. The reward was in the discovery and expression of them. (who am I kidding, she did try hard though)
A bit of a struggle entailed to get Rachel back into her car seat. But she is easily distracted by talking about the interesting things we saw. I got in next to hubby and said, “this was the best gas station stop. Look how something fun can be made out of something so ordinary.”
As we drove on, literally into the sunset ahead of us, I was transported back to when Rachel’s mommy, my youngest daughter, had to be shlepped along to her sister’s therapy appointments. I always felt badly that she had to be made to come along (as I had nobody to watch her) and so I tried to make it enjoyable for her while we waited. It became our one-on-one time fun time together. We read books and played games in the waiting room. But more memorable than that were the times we went over to the duck pond and playground that were near the office; even if it was just for a few minutes. And the times we jumped into the piles of leaves we’d make in front of the therapist’s house.
I’m so happy that these times have become wonderful memories for my daughter. At some point in the fall, she inevitably brings up, “ma, remember how we used to jump in the leaves while Navi was at speech therapy?” And my heart warms up to that memory and to the idea that we can always make something from nothing.
Read more from Harriet at Rebuild Life Now.