So often I find myself rushing through my own life as though it were a race. It must come from all those years of schooling and of desk work. I just struggle to shake it. Even when I'm planning a hike with the kids outdoors I rush along like a mad woman with some unidentified goal. I've actually heard myself yelling, "Let's set a pace here folks!" or "Listen, we've been looking at this tree for too long, let's move on!" And it's not just my pace that sabotages these moments with my family, it's also my complete inability to stop making everything a 'teachable moment.' "Ah, a milkweed!" I'll holler, "Those attract the monarch. Do you know what a monarch is? Why it's a blah blah blah blah blah..." Am I alone? Do you do this? Well, if you do, I think I've figured out a cure. The single best way to quit rushing around spoiling a perfectly lovely jaunt in nature is to bring a toddler.
Recently, Vincent has wanted to get "down, dooown, dooooooown!" from his stroller when we are hiking in the woods. 'Glagh. This is gonna hold up the whole show...' was my first honest to god thought when I set his little observer's feet on the path but then I realized, that's the whole damn point isn't it? To hold up the show. To put this mom show on hold and just hang out in the woods for a bit checking stuff out. To get down on his level and see what he is seeing. To feel the texture of tree bark, to get covered in burrs and to be amazed by tall mushrooms growing along the path. Deep breath. This is the time we are given. Why not toddle around in it?
My mother just bought this beautiful Beatrix Potter set for my kids and is it ever bringing back some wonderful childhood memories! My favourite story of the bunch is the one my mother read to me over and over: Mrs. Tiggywinkle. As a child, I imagined myself climbing the stile up the path into the mountain and finding a secret door inhabited by a little hedgehog washerwoman. Reading these again to my little girl is such a nice way to spend time together!
Other than the benefits of introducing my child to the arts and to time in nature, one of the main reasons I created Artsy Startsy was to enrich my own life with reminders of the joys of childhood. Things like taking time to look up at the sky when I step outside (something kids always do but adults forget) make me feel wonderful! I also enjoy bringing an adult lens to stories, places, songs and sights that were familiar to my days growing up. Taking a look back at these tales lets me feel all the old childish feelings of coziness, safety and delight in the idea of things like Beatrix's talking animals. At the same time, I bring new and very adult insights into the tales. I appreciate the detail in Beatrix's illustrations in a new way, I review her moral leanings with a bit more of a critical bent, and I get glimpses into some of the absurdities and social mores of aristocratic rural life in Britain 100 and some odd years ago. And I'm not the only one getting "childish" about the Beatrix Potter stories! Movie-goers are super excited to learn that James Corden and (maybe) Rose Byrne will be starring in a new movie adaptation of Peter Rabbit due out in 2018! Can't wait until then? Check out these resources for both you and your Little Reader!
1. This little selection of Colouring Pages to celebrate 150 Years of Beatrix Potter!
2. A few good reads to satisfy your adult curiosity about Potter's life and landscape.
3. Watch the Miss Potter movie and a snippet from my ultimate fav forever- Mrs. Tiggywinkle!