beautiful place of the world

May 4, 2010 at 4:43 pm 7 comments

It’s been bitter cold, with winds that whip through your clothing and take the breath from your mouth. But Labradors don’t care about weather conditions and I was getting the “Silent Scream” from Henry-dog today. He had already been left behind this morning when Echo and I trundled out for her weekly art class so when we returned home, gave him a scoop of kibble and then didn’t grab for the dog leash he was incredulous. The “Silent Scream” began. If you don’t have a dog you might not be familiar with the “Silent Scream”, in fact if you’re in the room with a dog but it isn’t your own dog you can’t even hear the “Silent Scream”. The screeches only reach the owners. In fact, to the naked eye, when Henry is silently screaming he looks like a regular dog, just a little more alert. But to me, the human responsible for his exercise and therefore happiness, he is yelling with his eyes. He follows my every move. His gaze bores into the back of my head with intense heat. The “Silent Scream” puts me on edge.

After an hour of this I began my campaign to convince Echo to get out of the house again. She was already dressed so at least that major hurdle was behind us. But she was also warm, cozy, and involved in a game. It wasn’t looking good but I couldn’t take the “Silent Scream” a second longer and made a major push, agreeing to bring every toy, blanket, and snack Echo desired. You could barely see her eyes poking out from behind the gigantic down sleeping bag I had crammed around her in the stroller but we were out the door. And Henry was smiling.

But as it always seems with kids, you finally get them moving in the desired direction, in this case the river, and then you have to get them moving in a new direction, meaning away from the river. Once Henry was wet and tired it didn’t take long before Echo and I were chilled to the bone but, having chosen to parent in a way that involves empathy, information, and negotiation, I wasn’t willing to grab Echo and stuff her back behind that purple sleeping bag again. Instead she ran, and then stopped for a while, and then rode, and then got back out again. She lingered behind picking juniper berries as I inched forward hoping my forward momentum would somehow transfer telepathically.

It’s funny because I didn’t even have anything I was trying to get towards, aside from the warmth of home, but somehow I had still become attached to the idea of moving forward. I notice this happening a lot. I get the idea that one of the girls should pee before reading stories, or that we should do any particular something before some other something. It’s ridiculous. On my good days I see through these unneccessary attachments and let go. It really is no big deal if Xi pees after stories instead of before. The world really won’t come to an end. But on other days, who knows why, I hold firmly onto my random and meaningless attachments, determined to make them happen no matter the costs.

Today I was leaning in this direction, creeping that stroller forward, even hoping that a bit of separation anxiety might propel Echo’s feet in the direction of home when she said “Mom. You gotta check this out. You gotta look at this.”

Hoping to check it out from where I stood so as not to lose the twenty feet of ground I had gained in my creeping, I craned my head. She stood in the middle of the alley, in between a laundromat and a tattoo parlor. There was a chain link fence, a patch of mud, some scraggly bushes, and a couple of dandelions. “Check what out? What do you see?”

But she said “No you gotta come closer!”

I reluctantly agreed and when I got to her, to my shame she said:

“Isn’t it beautiful? What a beautiful place of the world. The green bushes and this greyish cement…”

She swung her arms wide, half-closed her eyes in happiness and made a gentle demonstrative spin. I watched her, seeing that bedraggled alley spot through her eyes and how beautiful it truly was. I also saw myself for the fool that I am, needlessly pushing out of the moment, dragging us away from where we are only to get somewhere else and start dragging again.

I took a deep breath, silently scanned the chain link fence, the mud patch, the grey asphalt, and the dandelions again. I begged my brain to let go, my feet to stay still, my heart to soak up as much of this spinning, wind-whipped, beauty spotting, almost-three-year-old girl that it could, and smiled.


Entry filed under: life lessons, parenting principles. Tags: , , , .

triumph practice

7 Comments Add your own

  • 1. fillydesigns  |  May 4, 2010 at 7:03 pm

    What smile is that?

    • 2. nataliechristensen  |  May 4, 2010 at 8:40 pm

      that’s the “beautiful place of the world” smile!

  • 3. Space « Filly Designs  |  May 5, 2010 at 2:14 pm

    […] there. And I will  trust that the space I eventually create will be an expression of all the beautiful places of the world I have seen and […]

  • 4. starrynightcoach  |  May 6, 2010 at 1:23 pm

    Awww, what a cute kid 🙂

  • 5. stacey  |  May 6, 2010 at 4:37 pm

    oh natalie you speak my language. how grateful i am to know the diligence and care you use to be present with all things. and the awareness you have when you see and ADMIT when you have an agenda that does not meet life as it is. green yoga mat or not your practice is beautiful genuine and radical.. thank you.

  • 6. Jessi  |  May 8, 2010 at 10:22 pm

    I am not blessed with the vision of my children yet, but…I have found the greatest advantage to having MY dog is HIS ability to put me in that same place of now. When I am in his presence I remember to breathe deep, see the world for the beautiful place it is, find joy in every move of my body – every sound around me – every spirit i see (and through the loving eyes of my dog every spirit is beautiful, unique, and valuable); he gifts me with that innocent appreciation of life. I am forever in his debt for that reminder and all those priceless and uncountable in-the-now-moments!

    Love to Nanuk, my little man, for the love he nurtures in me for the life I am blessed to have.

  • 7. angela  |  May 9, 2010 at 10:01 pm

    oh my, moving forward at all costs, how i can relate. my two year old is steadfast in moving to her own drumbeat, and lately so hard to get to an older brother’s baseball practice when that is not on her agenda. how i yearn for slower days, and the balance to give all my kids so that no one feels rushed. there is such beauty when we allow ourselves to slow down. thanks for the reminder.


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