About a month ago, Sophie and I were in the grocery store looking for that evening’s dinner. It had been a long day for both of us, was very cold outside (cold for San Diego), I was in no mood to cook, and was eager to get home and into my comfy pajamas. As I browsed the gourmet soup and sushi section of the store, I pointed out to Sophie the live lobster tank in the hopes she’d stay interested for a a minute while I picked out my dinner.
Well, interested was an understatement. Sophie was enamored with these live lobsters. She would not take her eyes off of them. She wondered if they could see her and debated what they were thinking about. Even after an emergency bathroom run, she made me promise to return to the lobster tank for one last look. I then found myself staring at Sophie as intensely as she was peering at the live lobsters. What fascination we were both experiencing — she looking at these creatures and me watching her experience something she’s never seen before. And as much as I wanted to hurry us out of the store, I tried to keep myself in that moment and allow her the time to bond with those lobsters.
Later that evening – as we were enjoying our warm soup with a Harry Potter movie – I heard what sounded like pellets being crashed onto the ground outside. Little icy bits fell from the sky and onto our patio. It was hail, I yelled to Sophie! She ran outside to see the pieces of ice and couldn’t believe her eyes. Maybe it would actually snow, she exclaimed! The hail eventually subsided. But between the live lobsters and hail, Sophie couldn’t stop talking about the exciting things she experienced that evening.
I had the pleasure of spending the last two weeks with Sophie as she’s been home with me for spring break. I know some parents may read the word “pleasure” and think I’m crazy. But I have to admit, it was some of the best days we’ve spent together. I know part of that is because she’s older now and can express her emotions and desires easier. But I’ve also learned to focus more on the simpler things in life to make our time together more meaningful.
I purposefully did not pack every day of our vacation full with activities. I made sure we had days at home with absolutely nothing scheduled, just to see what would transpire. And when we did go on our outings, I really tried to be present in the moment myself and not worry about what would come next (not always easy for me). But I wanted Sophie to enjoy the little moments and the simple things. And now – with Sophie back at school – I admit I’m a bit sad the days are back to business as usual.
I think about that cold evening from a few months ago quite often. That night was one of those parenting “a ha” moments for me where I remembered what truly matters in life. It’s not about fancy toys, trips to Disneyland, clothes, the best schools, or even eating organic foods. It’s about the little moments – like live lobsters and hail – that are so simple, yet bring so much joy and wonder to a child.