Lessons From My Toddler: At The Wading Pool

P1130847It was a beautiful day again here in Portland. I’ve been wanting to take the boys to the wading pool for a while now, so I took the opportunity to go today. I called Nana and invited her to come play with us.

Getting a toddler and an infant (and myself) ready for the wading pool was more difficult than I had planned on. But we made it out to the pool and the water was so inviting. Elias started having fun immediately. Nana joined us after a bit, and Elias played catch with her as well as just playing around the pool. Simon chewed on a lobster dive ring, sat in the water, and was exploring the texture of the concrete.

P1130838We had a lot of fun at the wading pool, but after a little over an hour, we had crept too far into Simon’s nap time, and he was starting to let us know it! I got out to get Simon changed, and told Elias he had a few more minutes to play, and then it would be time to get out. I changed Simon, and then came back to tell Elias it was time to clean up the toys we had used, and get out. He cleaned up a lot of toys. He was a very helpful boy. I told him it was time to get out, but he kept wanting to go clean up more toys. I thought he was just trying to extend his time in the wading pool so I was not very happy about it, but I let him clean up a few more things. Then we got out to go get dressed.

Elias cleaning up the toys.

Elias cleaning up the toys.

After we were all safely in the car, Simon fell asleep almost immediately. I was talking with Elias about our trip to the wading pool. I did not want him to fall asleep in the car! I asked Elias what his favorite part of the wading pool was. Without hesitation, he said, “My favorite part was cleaning up the toys.”


I was stunned. The part I had tried to rush him through. The part I thought he would resist. The part I thought would be the least fun. After I recovered from my surprise, I asked him what else was fun about the wading pool. He said, “looking at the fountain, jumps, seeing Nana, and swimming.”

Then he asked me what my favorite part was. I think I said something about watching him splash and smile was my favorite part, but I was still thinking about his saying “cleaning up the toys” was his favorite part. It just made me think about how many moments I just pass through without really living them. Without really being present. Cleaning up the toys for me was a way to teach him to be conscientious about using public toys, and a way to transition him out of the pool. For him it was the best part. Because he was actually living in those moments. He’s got the right idea.

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