Last night, I typed the final words of a first draft of a novel.
It’s scary to tell you this, because I know how terrible it is right now. The writing is bad. The plot is convoluted. It has more clichés than a politician, more contradictions than my two girls’ versions of why they were fighting.
I have a vision of what it might become, but there’s a lot of work between its current reality and the future hope it represents.
Which is, I suppose, true of our world. And true of me, as well.
In any case, I have been writing. Quite a bit, actually. Since the end of September, I’ve logged somewhere around 90K words. I’ve built a habit of using nap time: with the kids tucked quietly into their rooms, I fix a cup of tea, and I sit down, and I write.
Except today, with the need to take some time and distance before jumping into round two, I have this writing habit with nothing specific to say.
(Lucky you, here I am at my computer anyway, with my poor neglected blog open, just waiting for me to fill it with a spattering of words.)
All of this, I think, is just a roundabout way of acknowledging how quiet this space has been for the past few months. It’s also a statement of accountability, me putting myself out there in the hopes that you, dear reader, won’t permit me to let that draft wither away in a drawer. And it’s a nod to the strength of habit: though I didn’t have a plan of what to say, still I sat down with my computer because that’s what I’ve done for the last 100+ days.
Now that all of that is out of the way, on to something far more important:
Going on a walk with a toddler.
Early yesterday morning, it was clear that we all needed a change. Every one of us. If we stayed in the house and tried to do our normal routine, we would tear each other to pieces well before noon.
And so we pulled on shoes and jackets and headed outside to see what we might see.
It was the first time I took all three kids without a carrier or a stroller or a child-moving device of some sort. The girls were like excited puppies, dashing on ahead, then looping back to keep time with Miles’ more ambling and exploratory pace. It was good for me – both to allow the older kids some freedom to be somewhat out of sight, and to wander and to wonder at the pace of a tiny human.
If you get the opportunity to take a walk with a small child yourself, I highly recommend it as an antidote for much of what plagues us in today’s world. If you don’t have that opportunity, however, Miles has some tips to offer you should you decide to go on your own.
Without further ado (and with apologies for the rambling introduction), I give you “Miles’s Guide to a Successful Walk.”
- Stop and admire any large trucks you find. This is vital. It doesn’t matter if they aren’t doing anything while you watch them. They are still worth admiring.
2. Be sure to stop and appreciate any sounds you hear. Dogs barking, birds singing, rustling in the brush. Be warned, though, that grownups are sometimes in far too great of a hurry. If the person you are with does not seem to have full appreciation of the wonder around you, plant your feet, grunt, and point until they acknowledge what you hear.
3. Wave to the cars driving by. Even if they can’t see you or don’t notice you, friendliness is important.
4. Sometimes, headstands are necessary. You never know how things will look from a different angle until you try.
5. Pick up any and every large stick you can. If it’s three times your height, so much the better. You never know when such a tool will come in handy. But don’t weigh yourself down with it unnecessarily, either. If something better comes along, feel free to shift gears and take advantage of new opportunities.
6. Pockets keep your hands warm. Also, walking with your hands in them is cool. All the best pants have pockets.
(Knot on my forehead? What knot on my forehead?)
7. Sometimes, getting your hands in your pockets takes work. You might have to stop and focus to make it happen. But don’t give up! Everything worth doing takes perseverance.
8. Be forewarned, though: you can be too aggressive as you’re trying to accomplish your goals, with unfortunate results. When such things happen, it’s important to have friends and family (or a loving parent) to help you set things to rights.
9. Most importantly, don’t forget to take some good friends, companions, and role models with you along the way. Even if their pace is different than yours, the journey is always better when you share it with those you love.