I went on a field trip with Rebecca and her class to the pumpkin patch. It’s a pretty standard field trip for the fall and we’ve been to the pumpkin patch a bunch of times together.
We both knew the drill: take a wagon ride up to the patch, pick a pumpkin, and take a wagon ride back down.
And that’s exactly how it started. We took a wagon up to the pumpkin patch and Rebecca immediately grabbed my hand. She wanted to walk in the direction opposite of everyone else. I let her lead me to the middle of the patch while she searched for the perfect pumpkin. Meanwhile, she bent down and inspected each one. She announced each color she saw and every trait of every single pumpkin. She explained the pumpkin life cycle twice. She marveled over every bug we saw.
I wanted to hurry her. I wanted to be with the group. It took every ounce of patience I had to be engaged in listening as she sportscasted the entire outing.
I didn’t want to rush. I wanted to watch her innocence and she her delight in learning and observing. The problem with that is I have the mind of a mother. It’s riddled with thoughts and ideas:
Do we have enough milk?
Can I wait until next week to buy coffee?
Did I remember to put the sheets in the washer?
Did the girls do their piano homework yet?
How many spelling words will she know this week?
What are we buying for the birthday party on Saturday?
What in the world am I making for dinner?
What city is Matt in on this business trip?
Did we remind our family that we want to host Thanksgiving?
I could go on and on. In fact, my mind does go on and on… and on and on… And that’s why I get impatient. I’m always wanting to move and do things. Every tug and squeeze from Rebecca’s hand was a reminder to immerse myself in the moment. She stops to inspect every bug and asks me to photograph it. It’s precious that she wants to share these things with me and not her friends.
It’s then that I realize: Who am I to rush her? Who am I to make her stop learning in this environment and the world around her? Why should I make her pick a pumpkin that isn’t everything she wanted?
We walked together until she found the perfect pumpkin. She proudly carried it back to the wagon and when she talked to Matt on the phone later that evening, she couldn’t wait to describe in detail what her pumpkin looked and felt like.
We didn’t have to be quick at the pumpkin patch. We didn’t have anywhere else to go. But rushing her this one time, when it wasn’t significant, would lead to making her rush a thousand other times. It teaches her to settle for something less than she wants. I don’t want her to do that in 20 years with a job, a partner, or a friendship. She deserves the best of what she wants and she has every right to start getting that now.
And at 4 years old, that all starts with a pumpkin.
Kristina Grum is a Certified Parent Educator who has over a decade of experience working with children, including being a classroom teacher. She currently teaches parenting classes in her local area and writes about shifting parenthood from barely surviving to thriving.