Day 4. The things we save.

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This morning my first-grader plucked these two leaves off the ground during our walk to school. The small one, she pointed out, is a baby leaf, and the big one looks like a cat’s head.

When we parted ways, she handed me the leaves, solemnly instructing me to take them home and put them in a very safe place. I nodded and urged her to hurry because the bell was about to ring and I didn’t want her to be late.

I thought about all the leaves (petals, sticks, rocks, etc.) which have appeared in random piles around the house in the years since my kids began gathering them. I still had the crumbled remains of several leaves, dried and crunchy, in my jacket pockets because of all those times I’d forgotten to put them in a very safe place.

I thought about my persistent compulsion to throw these things away. To me, it was clutter (in some cases, decomposing clutter). Half the time, the kids didn’t even give their “treasures” a second look. We couldn’t save everything.

Something heavy happened then, right there on the sidewalk. I felt, keenly, the exhaustion of always being concerned about messes, and rules, and being on time. This was followed by a wave of longing for the curiosity and joy that I worry I’ve lost because I’m too busy being a responsible grown-up. Then came the nagging fear that I was inadvertently smothering this gift of wonder in my own children.

But then I realized that wasn’t true. The proof was right there in my hand.

During the walk back on my own, I looked at the leaves my child had pressed into my palm. I saw the silhouette of the cat’s head, clear as day. I studied the tiny perfection of the baby leaf.

I didn’t stuff them into my pocket this time. When I got home I made a picture of them instead.

 

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One thought on “Day 4. The things we save.

  1. Pingback: Child’s play. | Do What You Wish

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