Yesterday I watched my son build an entire city out of dirt, rocks, and small sticks. He kept up a steady stream of conversation as he worked, talking to the road surveyors, construction workers, and heavy equipment operators who existed in his imagination for the time it took to finish.
To me, dirt, rocks, and sticks don't amount to much. But to Sean, they're the greatest things since sliced bread for constructing entire systems of roads and towns.
Five-year-old Sean has an endless fascination with everything. A simple ride into town is full of wonder for him. "Oh, look, Mommy, there's a tree! Look at that bird with the red head! Hey, there's a new baby cow! Look at that tractor!"
Rocks provide hours of fascination as he picks them up and sticks them in his pocket for whatever use his imagination devises. Tree branches make great walking sticks for strolls through the woods. And dandelions are beautiful flowers he often gives me with the words, "I brought you something nice for the house, Mommy."
I've gotten used to picking up rocks from his bedroom floor, and I put the dandelions in a vase where, to my chagrin, they often last for days.
The questions my son asks at a rapid-fire pace are often as exhausting as trying to keep up with him physically: "Are the clouds really moving or do they just look like they're moving because we're driving in the car? How do dragons eat cookies without burning them up?"
As much as I hate to admit it, there are some days that, by mid-morning, I'm ready to use the imaginaryroll of duct tape that a friend once jokingly told me would be a handy item to have around the house once I had kids.
The nonstop curiosity that has him yelling, "You have to come and see this, Mommy!" a dozen times a day, and the sheer number of words he uses to excitedly ask questions or tell me about his world completely exhausts me.
Even when he isn't talking to me, but to some make-believe companion, the sound of his voice is a constant as I move from making the beds to doing the laundry to making lunch.
It suddenly hit me one day, perhaps while I was attempting to answer Sean's question about whether grasshoppers have skeletons, that my son's insatiable need to know, to ask, and to tell about everything in his life is another way that he learns about himself and the world around him.
How amazing, I thought, to be able to greet each day and everything in it with joy, gratitude, and an unquenchable thirst to learn more. I've found myself adopting this attitude more and more, and have discovered that it's a wonderful way to approach each day. Not only is he learning about the world around him, but so am I.
So now every time I get the urge to take out that imaginary duct tape, I remember how much I've learned from my son, and I immediately tuck the roll away into the recesses of my mind. I'm hoping it will eventually stay there for good.