I learned a very important lesson yesterday, from none other than one of my favorite two year olds. I learned that getting from Point A to Point B is not nearly as important as the journey. En route to the playground I was very focused on the task of actually getting to the playground, the toddler was far more interested in turning every experience along the way into an adventure. I was initially reluctant to stop and smell the roses, but when you are dealing with a two year old who has chosen to forego her afternoon nap it is wise to do everything possible to keep the peace.
It took us close to ten minutes just to traverse one block because there were shadows to look at, cars to point out, flying birds to watch, opportunities to practice walking backwards and skipping, and many necessary stops to make sure the stuffed animals were still safely tucked into the stroller seat. I was more than a little annoyed by the time we actually got to the corner and the toddler refused to hold my hand while crossing the street. Not only were we never going to get to the playground, she was going to be hit by a car in the middle of our fruitless journey. I yelled at her, we had a long talk, I told her I had yelled because I was scared and didn’t want her to get hurt, then I promptly asked her what she was to do every time she crossed the street. We made up just in time to stumble across a stray kitten who was in need of some belly scratching. We spent a long time talking to the cat, letting her smell our hands, petting her, and watching her roll around in the sun. The journey was slowly becoming more important that the destination.
After the cat came a long interlude of digging in the dirt at the base of a tree. There was lots of rock collecting, digging, and chasing of leaves blowing in the wind. We spent close to an hour paused on our journey. The toddler took note of every rock in the dirt from the huge piece of broken concrete to the tiniest pebble. We compared sizes and textures. We discussed the importance of finding good digging rocks. We created patterns in the dirt with our fingers. We sat on the curb in the sun simply enjoying the fresh air and each other’s company. Slowly the importance of getting to the playground faded in my mind, the importance of enjoying the journey, making new discoveries, and enjoying the beautiful day together were all that really mattered. Eventually we did get to the playground, but the journey had been far more enjoyable than the actual destination.