Every day of parenthood is decorated with small reminders of how fun growing up can be. Those little joys and discoveries that now color Elle’s every day serve to remind me that life can, and really should, be silly sometimes.
Last week, we popped bubble wrap. I had forgotten how much fun it is, squeezing air from those shiny little plastic orbs, clinging gleefully to the moment just before hearing that strangely satisfying “pop!” It wasn’t my idea to hop on bubble wrap. The bubble wrap happened to be on the floor, where I would eventually have noticed it as just another thing I needed to pick up.
But the beauty of babies is that they find fresh perspective in everything you’ve cast away from your attention. Humdrum things like a lonely slab of bubble wrap hiding under the kitchen table.
May I point out that under the kitchen table is a place my daughter spends a good part of her day. It’s a place I hadn’t visited until just recently, and I have to say, if you haven’t crawled under your kitchen table lately, you really should. The whole room is born anew when viewed from under there.
I was bustling away in the kitchen, unloading the dishwasher, when I heard the first tentative “pop!” I peered over the counter to see Elle, in her under-the-table haven, the square of bubble wrap clutched in her little fist and the creeping shadow of astonishment washing over her countenance. She squeezed the bubble wrap again. It popped. She squeezed it more vigorously. Suddenly, the two of us were under the table, popping bubble wrap in a giggly frenzy. Popping it with our fingers, popping it with our feet. It was a short-lived but excellent detour from my chore of unloading the dishwasher.
And when is the last time you poured cupfuls of dog dish water into an open drawer? I doubt you can remember, since that type of behavior in an adult would likely raise serious questions about your sanity. Yet the process seems very rational, even reasonable, when executed by an 11-month-old.
Yesterday, I refrained from pouring the dog’s water into the Tupperware alongside my daughter. I would, after all, end up being the one who would have to deal with the sloppy repercussions of the dog water-meets-open drawer ordeal. I did however enjoy watching my daughter gleefully scoop slobber-laced water by the sippy cupful into that drawer. It was, I could tell, really fun.
So much of being a parent of a curious toddler revolves around taking away and saying no-no. But it also offers daily opportunities for stepping backwards into a time when fun, and not its aftermath, was all that life was about. Having a baby has helped me remember that fun comes in all shapes and sizes – degrees of messiness, too. I don’t think I’ll be discarding an unpopped slab of bubble wrap anytime soon.