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Seeds of something fine

It’s all a matter of perspective

Staff writer

Last year was our first experience of Chingawassa Days. As parents of a 1-year-old, and considering the oppressive heat that weekend, we didn’t attempt to participate in much.

This year, we were ready for something a bit more exciting. Knowing our toddler, we still weren’t planning to spend the whole day at the festival, but we were just sure she’d be interested in enough things to make it worth the effort.

She’s really into bouncing lately, so I thought the inflatable attractions would be a hit. If nothing else, I knew she’d love to see and pet animals.

We planned ahead and blocked out a good chunk of time Saturday morning for the glee we were sure would ensue. I charged the camera battery and packed plenty of water. I dressed her in something I was sure was “bouncing friendly.”

Only five minutes behind schedule (which is like being early when you have a 2-year-old) we set off for the park. We urged her along the whole three blocks. She dawdled, and we kept assuring each other “if only she knew what awaits her, she’d hustle.”

When we arrived at the park I immediately started scanning for the animals before we’d even paid for admission. I figured we’d start there to warm her up to the sounds and people before the big reveal: the inflatables.

On our way to the petting zoo area we had to pass by one of the fountains that’s always on in the summer. I didn’t even think about something so mundane distracting us from our course toward total awesomeness, so of course she was several yards away from me, running full speed and squealing, before I noticed she was gone.

We turned and pursued our toddler who was careening through clusters of people without any consideration for who or what she ran into.

We caught up to her at the fountain at the far end of the park. She stood in awe as though she hadn’t seen it 800 times before.

As I approached her, she turned to me and screamed like a teeny-bopper at a boy-band concert, “Mommy! The fountain! They turn the water on!”

“I see that sweetie, that’s really cool,” I said, trying to affirm her, or so I thought. “But don’t you want to go pet some animals?” I asked.

“No, I just want to look at the fountain,” she said, her last words trailing as she was walking away from me so I couldn’t force her to leave.

I relented, briefly. But I’m ashamed to admit I kept trying to convince her.

Eventually we did make it over to the animals. And, as I predicted, she was delighted.

We moved from there to the first inflatable attraction. To her credit, she did remove her shoes and climb onto the thing without being coaxed — much. But that was as far as that train went.

I had prepared myself to accept whatever my cautious little girl was willing to risk, and after only a couple inquiries if she was sure she was done, I lifted her off and put her shoes back on.

And what did she beg to do after that? Look at the fountain some more.

In fact, that’s pretty much all she wanted to do the whole time we were there.

Her wonderful father lovingly sat beside it, walked around it, and expressed amazement right along with her, but I was truly bored.

I tried to fake it, but kids know fake when they hear it. She eventually stopped trying to engage me in her wonder and stuck with her dad. I’m sure she could hear me thinking, “We didn’t pay to stand around and stare at something we can see every day!”

In fact I think I was saying this out loud when it hit me — and isn’t that what I love about her?

She has said something about the fountains being on or off almost every time we have driven past them since they turned them off in the fall.

When the fountains came back on a couple weeks ago she talked about it every time we got in the car. I should have seen it coming.

When I finally squatted down Saturday to hear what she was saying, I heard her talking about the water going in and out, about the sounds, the wetness, the shapes, the coldness of it.

And isn’t that one of the things I have so loved about being a parent? That she is consumed by wonder in things I barely even look at anymore, and this invites me to stop and enjoy some wonder of my own.

She has never been a risk taker or one to thrill at lots of noisy new things with lots of people around. That’s just not my kid.

But I can’t even count how many times something old has become new in our house by the mere fact that Lyla has discovered something new about the way it moves or how it relates to other things in her world.

She can see a universe of sensation and fascination in a fountain I hadn’t even dipped my fingers into maybe since the week we moved here — not until Saturday that is.

She was right, the water was moving very fast. It was cold and loud, but the cold was refreshing and the sound helped me tune out the world around me and tune in to the world of wonder at my fingertips.

Last modified June 9, 2011

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