Herding cats ... walking with toddlers.

Trying to go for a walk with a nearly two year old is an act of patience, restraint and a health and safety nightmare. Notice I didn't even say going for a walk with a two year old .... I'll get to that . No just trying to leave the house is bad enough for us at the moment. With lockdown still very much a focus here , as two year olds don't social distance, we are still venturing out solo in our community and just jaunting around the neighbourhood .

When I say to my wee woman , lets go for a walk, or I'm dragged to the shoe basket to help her put on mismatched or slight inappropriate shoes for the outing she wants to go on, think wellies on a sweltering day ! I first have to navigate, the assembled community in our hallway. A selection of teddies, toys, clothing items and various forms of transport for all in sundry block our way. Once we have an ensemble sorted for who ever has been elected to accompany us, be it teddy in her old sneakers and an oversized beanie for herself. And transport arranged, be it pram, pushchair ( they are different ) scooter or back pack , that I will inevitably be holding, towing, pushing or pulling with said hanger ones before we even get to the corner. We get out the door and then the fun begins, for her not me ...

My wee one likes to change direction like the wind when walking , her costume choice ( hat off or jacket unzipped or zipped or discarded completely on a freezing day ) Or her mind of even going for a walk altogether and wanting to be carried. But we do, most days get over the hurdles of leaving the driveway and get out and about. I have devised ( in my head ) clever diversions to keep her entertained. I hide her companions in the hedge rows and get her to find them. We walk the walls where we can. We ( if available ) gather up flower petals to thrown in the wind. Chase our shadows on a sunny day and/ or the cat that chooses sometimes to come with us, and is incidentally called shadow. We jump in puddles if available and even if not really properly attired for it. Lots of wet pants and soaking cuffs as she has figured out that leaves will float. To recently , I ( stupidly ) showed her , that she had pockets in her jumper and that , set us back half an hour in pottle time, to filling them with stones of all shapes and sizes. All had to come home with us !

I do try to slip in to these wee escapes, some educational value of counting or saying the colours of cars or finding and naming stone statues that are dotted around the place in peoples gardens. She now knows her choice of direction as ''Do we go left to the chickens or right to the goose? " An added bonus for me that I was noticing today is while I am stationary on the same spot for a wee while , as she runs up and down a grassy knoll for the umpteenth time and refuses to move on. Is that I have come to know the neighbourhood very well and its inhabitants. Im on smiling waving terms with people I would not necessarily have any contact with usually as they live close but not that close to me. I have noted the seasons happening in the trees and vegetation around my local area. I have watched cherry blossom, bud, bloom and blow away in the three months I have been walking around the same streets. I would not have the time usually and would not do the same walk usually if it wasn't for lockdown. I thank my wee one, silently, for wanting to inspect all the stones, touch ( pick ) the flowers, touch the trees with her ever expanding curiosity of reigniting my awareness and interest in my surroundings too.

Im (re) learning to view the world through her eyes , a view and outlook I once had and lost in growing up. Lockdown has given us both a chance to stop and smell the flowers as such, take stock ( on differing levels ) our lives. Im remembering to take my time, she is forcing me to amble with her. I have to remind myself to not hurry or rush her along. To encourage that spark of imagination and curiosity in her. These two things are building blocks of life for her. To want to explore, to be encouraged to question, to take in her world, feel it, taste it, smell it, hear it and in her case bring parts of it home ! To experience all that is around her. Even if it drives me insane that we seem to be three steps forward and ten steps backwards. I cannot and will not snuff out that desire to learn, her inquisitive streak.

Even if it takes us ten more minutes that we kind of don't have, as she due lunch or a sleep , etc. Even if I'm sweating as I'm laden down with all sorts of weird and wonderful treasures she had found , along with her hat, left shoe and a dozen teddies that she insisted we bring. I will try to be patient when she has to do a roll poly down the lawn of someones house and three circuits of the driveway before we can go home. Her childhood is a wonderful thing, she brings out my inner child and I will try not to grow up too fast.

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