Traipsing through the tulips

My 7-year-old’s second-grade teacher often teases him about his tendency to “traipse through the tulips,” as she puts it.

He is the most distracted child I’ve ever known.

Last year at the end of the year school picnic, my son was whipping around with friends on a merry-go-round at the park. He simply let go, he would later tell us as we were cleaning up his scraped knees and elbow, because he noticed a caterpillar on the ground. He wanted to get off and take a look at it.

It can be infuriating, this absentmindedness of his. I can send him to clean his room and 45 minutes later find him, still in the midst of a mess, creating an elaborate design on his dresser top with toys and knick-knacks.

He’s the last one ready for school in the morning and the last one out of the bathroom at night.

But despite my frustration, I also admire this quality in my little boy. He does exactly what so many people regret not doing later in life: he stops to smell the roses.

Life has been a little crazy in our household lately. My husband is taking on more work, my boys have started softball and the summer calendar is already starting to fill up with obligations and invitations. I’ve been running around like a crazy woman trying to juggle it all and get my garden planted.

When I talk with other moms, this always seems to be the case in the summer months. We wait anxiously all year for these three months of warm weather and no school.

Then when it arrives, we pack it so full of “stuff” we don’t really take the time to enjoy it.

Perhaps my best summer memories from childhood are the weeks we spent at my parents’ cabin in northern Wisconsin. No one had to go to work. No one fretted about laundry or dentist appointments.

Our biggest concern was what to have for dinner.

My parents taught us growing up that it was important to work hard, but equally important to take a vacation from work every year – even if just for a few days.

And we do.

I can’t wait to go up north this summer and spend time swinging in the hammock with my kids, going out on the lake, swimming, fishing or just sitting on the deck playing cards.

It’s the highlight of their summer too.

It’s when we all can be a little more like my 7-year-old. When we stop to appreciate the sound of the birds instead of the TV, look up at the stars instead of bending our heads over our cell phones and talk to each other instead of our Facebook friends.

We stop to smell the pine trees and restore ourselves.

Maybe, I think to myself sometimes, my 7-year-old has it right. Not that I’m advocating for anyone to let go of a moving merry-go-round to see a caterpillar. But maybe just slowing it down a little for a better look every once in a while might not be such a bad thing.

• Mommy Talk is written by reporter Marci Laehr Tenuta. Reporter Mike Moore writes Daddy Talk. Their columns run in a rotation and can be found online at Laehr Tenuta has three children, two boys and a girl. Moore has a son.


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