Choosing a Slower Childhood

I was struck recently by this quote in an article written by Simplicity Parenting author, Kim John Payne: "Ultimately, it comes down to a choice. Parents need to decide whether they believe childhood is a fast-paced enrichment opportunity or a slowly unfolding experience."

We choose the slow and simple. And yet, a slow and simple childhood in today's increasingly fast and complex world is a choice that needs constant vigilance. So many fascinating activities and exciting children's programming here in the city could easily sweep us off our feet and consume the precious time my children have to just be--to imagine and create and grow--slowly and steadily.

On summer-like days here in March, unexpected and entirely welcomed, I am reminded more prominently of the gift of allowing childhood to be a "slowly unfolding experience." Spending nearly all of our daylight hours outside, drinking in the sunshine and warmth, I can almost see childhood unfolding naturally, peacefully. I can see siblings collaborating on important backyard projects. I can hear whispers of fairies and magic and all that's possible. I can watch trees get climbed, feet get muddy, sticks get transformed, dreams get planted.

I observe this quiet unfolding of childhood, just as the crocuses and daffodils quietly unfold around us, and marvel at its simple, uninterrupted beauty. In truth, it's really only been in the last few years that I have truly seen spring unfold: deeply and intentionally noticed the first buds, the first burst of color. It was in these last few years that my children introduced to me a slower, more deliberate pace--a pace necessary to spot each new bud and petal. My children are completely enchanted by spring's new discoveries and force a stiller, steadier, more observant rhythm to appreciate all that emerges around us.

I learn from them. I learn to go slower, to notice more, to appreciate more, and to protect the extraordinary unfolding of childhood.