By Guest Blogger Ellen Bryant Lloyd
With springtime weather and the possibility of spring beach trips on the horizon, I was reminded of a beach trip my family took several years ago and an important lesson I learned while there.
One afternoon while relaxing by the water, I noticed a young girl playing in the sand. She was adorable, with bright eyes and a broad smile. When I crossed paths with her mother the day before, she told me that her daughter had turned one a few weeks earlier and was all about exploring everything around her.
The girl’s father walked over to her sandy play area and asked her if she wanted to take a walk on the beach with him. She enthusiastically jumped up and grabbed her father’s hand. Hand-in-hand, the two walked along the water’s edge. Their walk was sprinkled with giggles and squeals each time the water lapped at their feet. The girl’s face lit up with an expression of pure joy.
As they walked, I noticed the little girl kept reaching down in an effort to touch the sand. Each time she came close, her father, unaware of her intention, gently pulled her little body upright in an effort to continue their walk.
Determined, the girl continued to reach for the sand, only to be pulled upright so their walk would stay on track. It struck me that the girl, whose sweet smile remained constant, never stopped reaching for the sand. She was curious and really, really wanted to touch the sand. Her perseverant spirit never waned. Sadly, her dad never stopped to look down and see what she was reaching for.
When the two returned to their beach chairs, the dad dropped his daughter’s hand and joined the rest of his family in conversation. I watched as the girl dropped her body to the ground so her hands could finally delve into the sand that she had so fervently tried to touch. Within seconds she was squealing with delight and playing with the sand as though it was the most exciting experience she had ever had. She was finally able to touch the sand.
This poignant moment reminded me how a child’s perspective of the world is much different than that of an adult. Children readily recognize the beauty and delight of simple things. They are not deterred by hearing “no” when they are drawn by their curiosity to explore or experience something new. They are naturally filled with joy and appreciation for the world around them. How quickly we, as adults, fail to realize this and pull them back into our “real world” and on to the next task or to continue along a path.
I realized in this moment how much of a difference it would make if adults stepped away from their agenda and encouraged children to “touch the sand,” literally and figuratively, and not pull them away from it. If we did this, we would likely observe the pure joy they experience and, perhaps, it would bring more joy to our lives as well.
Ellen Bryant Lloyd is a writer and mom of two children, one who has flown from the nest and the other is not far from it. She blogs about perspectives on life and parenting at mindfulmom.wordpress.com and tweets at @EllenBLloyd. She is the author of FRECKLES and FRECKLES and The Great Beach Rescue, a freelance writer and memoir ghostwriter. Ellen lives in Greensboro with her husband, her daughter, when she is home from college, and the sweetest dog ever. She looks forward to seeing her son, who is now living and working in a nearby metropolitan city, as often as possible.