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  • What a wonderful weekend. I had a three day play date with my three year old grandson. We planted flowers, read stories, watched our favorite DVD, Babar of the Jungle, at least 5 times. (I doubt that it will ever work its way into a conversation but I can now recite most of the dialog and sing many of the songs by heart.) We had dinner at Chick-fil-a, chicken nuggets, a fruit cup, chocolate milk and a chocolate sundae. My nutritionist need never know. And of course we built tunnels and bridges with our wooden blocks and BB Al made his famous Mickey Mouse Waffles. Little Katie had the best time. Big Katie wasn’t used to rising and trying to shine at 5 AM but Henry was enthusiastic and filled with joy enough for both of us.

    In addition to enjoying the gift of a grandchild and a visit from my own inner child, I had an AHA moment. Although I wish I would have had it as a young mom, perhaps there is no right time for a spark of wisdom and such AHAs come only when we’re ready to receive them. I realized I was no longer fluent in the language of Toddler.

    Friday afternoon traffic in Atlanta was more than challenging. An hour ride became two hours. Henry was up the entire time chatting away, making observations and asking questions. He saw a blue hospital sign and noticed that the big white H was the first letter in his name. With an AHA flash of his own he began to notice all the letters on the buildings and signs in the downtown area and connected them to the other letters in his name. It was as significant and wondrous to him as fire must have been to the first cave man. I was hooked. I wanted to forget what I thought I knew and experience the awe and amazement of discovery that I saw in Henry.

    Why is there wood on the streets? (Telephone poles), How did it get there? What does the wood do? Who put it there?
    Why is that truck’s window open?
    Why can’t we go any faster?
    Why is the policeman riding a bicycle?
    What is that? (new building going up) What does it do? Why are those men with yellow hats there? Who wanted to put it there? Why?
    Do fake flowers grow? Why not?
    What’s a fountain?

    Nonstop questions and all of them reasonable. As an adult I take it for granted that I know and understand how everyday things work. When I was unable to articulate at a level simple enough for a three year old why there were telephone poles, I was reminded of Albert Einstein’s quote “If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough”. No wonder adults are frustrated and exhausted by these little curiosity machines. We may know a lot but it’s more than possible we don’t understand much of it.

    That was my AHA moment. When I could’t answer little people’s very basic questions, I tended to dismiss them as foolish or silly. Getting the questions in rapid fire succession didn’t help my mood or my ability to explain in a simple way what I now knew I didn’t understand. It was the first time I clearly recognized that we don’t outgrow the magic of childhood. We don’t outgrow our angels and sacred spiritual connections. We are unconsciously and unintentionally taught to bury them by overwhelmed, exhausted parents who have forgotten how to speak Toddler and in these moments is born the shame filled belief that we are supposed to know everything we don’t know.

    Hopefully, now that I know better, I’ll do better and I’ll be a safe place for all Henry’s questions to sprout wings and find answers. Hopefully, I’ll become better at speaking Toddler. It’s a language I used to know well.

    Image Henry showing off his gardening expertise.
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