I have been taking full advantage of the unusually "cooler" weather for the Midwest in July, and playing outdoors as much as possible with my baby boy, Kestan, and my husband, Chris.
The other night, we found ourselves at a new park. They had lots of playgrounds, slides, and swings to choose from. Kestan likes climbing around, but this particular night he was more interested in walking and taking new paths.
On our journey around the park we let Kestan lead the way. Suddenly, he stopped in his tracks, looked down at his feet and with a "ah ah" and a point, we knew this meant he wanted his shoes off.
My initial reaction to this was, "Oh, no, there might be glass." But, again, Kestan pointed to his shoes. He wasn't budging 'til those shoes were removed. Daddy helped him step out of his plastic crocs and we thought we were ready to roll. But, no, Kestan proceeded to point to daddy's feet - "ah ah". Daddy obliged and happily kicked off his sandals.
Kestan pointed to my shoes. "Ah, ah." I hesitated. My thoughts continued, "What about glass? Or rocks? "Ah, ah." Or what will the other parents think as I let my child run barefoot in a public park?" "Ah, ah!"
In that moment I realized, although there are times when we need to be cautious, in this particular instance, my baby boy was trying to tell me something. I looked down the path. There wasn't any glass, not even a rock. Was I going to let fear keep me from enjoying a "down-to-earth" experience with my family?
Off the shoes went and for several minutes we let Kestan lead us up and down new paths. We only stopped briefly to play on the hopscotch some kids drew with sidewalk chalk. (I haven't played that in years and man, was it fun!)
After that, we made our way to a wooden bridge. The feeling of the smooth, cool wood under our feet was wonderful, and of course, Kestan noticed it right away. We also learned that the bridge made a drumming sound as we walked across and it echoed off the water below. We were making music with our feet! And we played there walking, running and stomping our feet until Kestan decided he was done. With a point and "ah, ah", we put our shoes back on and continued on our journey.
I believe children are our greatest teachers. I think Kestan intuitively knew that his parents needed to chill out and get reconnected and grounded to the earth. Being barefoot allowed us to do just that. We enjoyed being in the present moment, and because we were able to face our fears of doing something "out of the ordinary", we all stumbled across something new and got to experience that together.
I am grateful that we were aware enough to recognize that Kestan was telling us something. He brought us all together as a family by allowing us to be ok with getting dirty, by taking us on new paths, and by reminding us of the beauty in the simple things.
Your Personal Reflection: What lessons in life have you learned from children? When is the last time you kicked off your shoes in the park and touched the earth? (Or played hopscotch!?) Take some time this week to go shoeless, to get your feet dirty, and to play in the sun with the ones you love.