I recently had the opportunity to introduce my son to one of my favorite college food staples: Ramen Noodles. I watched him marveling at the length of the noodles, giggling as he dangled ribbons of noodles over his mouth, waiting to catch them and slurp them up in one go, and I couldn’t help but join in his excitement. It wasn’t long before I was sharing noodles with my son, trying to catch individual noodles in my mouth, each of us pulling random noodles from the bowl, trying to see who could get the longest and squiggliest on each attempt. Oh, how we laughed! In that moment, I couldn’t help but be struck by how many ordinary things have become extraordinary when viewed through my son’s eyes. Before yesterday, Ramen noodles were simply a cheap food I consumed after a night of drinking in college, often eating them raw as I waited for my hot pot to heat the water that would rehydrate them. Those noodles were what I ate in my college dorm room on days when I was battling a cold and unable to make the walk to the cafeteria; yesterday, those same noodles were a lesson in food play and fun with my son.
At two years old, Declan’s personality becomes stronger with each day, and every trip outside of the house a cause for wonderment and adventure, no matter how mundane. Grocery runs are an adventure, with D begging to visit the fish counter, or explore fruits and vegetables in the produce section. Grocery shopping had always been a perfunctory errand, with me zipping through the aisles, list in hand, and an objective to get in and out as fast as possible [so I could check another errand off of my list]; these days, grocery shopping is an adventure.
A day trip to the beach, picking blueberries in an orchard, even a meal in a restaurant becomes something new and fascinating through my son’s eyes. It’s a joy to watch Declan light up and become energized when we go into the city, coming alive with the constant motion, sounds, and people bustling around him. Trips to our local zoo inspire curious questions for days afterwards. Even a simple walk in our backyard and neighboring fields become exotic, when contemplating the possibilities of wild raspberry bushes, black walnuts falling from the trees, and the many shapes of twigs and branches that fall from the abundance of trees. And mud puddles? Look out, because there are hours of enjoyment and exploration to be had there! Perhaps my favorite activity with D is going to bookstores, where I can share in his excitement of the thousands of possibilities on the shelves, each spine hinting at a new adventure.
So many parents talk about how having children changes them; teaching them a love they never knew existed, true selflessness, and channeling a patience they had never before possessed. If there is one thing my son has taught me, it is to slow down and take in my surroundings, giving myself over to each experience, no matter how mundane or insignificant it may seem. Declan’s innocence and wonderment reminds me to be grateful for life’s blessings, no matter the size, allowing me to continually practice my inherent inquisitiveness and sate my own curiosity about the world around me.