Do you remember school field trips?
I do. Not all of them, but more than a couple. The Museum of Tolerance. Camping trip to see Halley's Comet. Historic reenactment at the Stagecoach Inn. Many seemed so life-changing and eye-opening at the time, and while some still do (I probably won't see the Comet again in my lifetime) others have been dimmed by the passage of time, and age, and newer or repeated experiences. But, at the time, they were new and novel - they expanded my horizons.
In the name of intentional mothering, we talk frequently about being purposeful with our kids and planning activities with their development in mind. But, even so, I lose sight of the fact that what is mundane for me expands my kids' horizons.
Last week I was brave and ran errands with both Moose and Mouse for the first time. I wasn't overly ambitious: Whole Foods for gripe water and PetSmart for cat food. But what started as simple became a fantastic field trip for Moose!
Once inside Whole Foods (because, really, who has ever come out of that store with just the one thing they came for?) we found ourselves at the cheese counter. The friendly cheesemonger offered me a sample of five-year aged Gouda (yum!).
"I want some," Moose declared, and (after extorting a "please") I broke off a piece of mine to share.
"I like that!"
And the tickled cheesemonger hands Moose a small container with about a dozen small pieces of the older-than-my-kid Gouda.
Without pressuring, the cheesemonger then offers a balsamic-infused cheese, and another that is made from a blend of cow, goat, and sheep's milk. Except now he hands two pieces to me for every taste - one for me and one for Moose.
Moose offers an enthusiastic and unsolicited "thank you" to each.
We end with a two-year Gouda, which Moose declares he doesn't care for as much as the five-year. The cheesemonger smiles and as soon as we walk away, Moose asks if we can "do it again sometime?".
Next stop is the pet store and before I can even steer the cart toward the cat food, Moose spots the cats available to rescue. Followed by the fish and the finches. He recognizes each and moves on quickly.
Until we get to the small mammals.
"Mommy, what's that?"
It's a rat, who obligingly stops bathing and comes right up to the glass to give Moose the once-over. I explain that it's sort of like a mouse (which he knows from books), and that they're actually very smart and make good pets. Moose converses with the rat for a good five minutes before we actually make it to the cat food aisle. We find ourselves returning again on the way to the register.
Other than the tantrum that ensued when we finally left, I came away with a warm, fuzzy feeling that, without really meaning to do anything other than brave some errands with both kids in tow, I gave Moose a fantastic field trip. Some day in the not-so-distant future, grocery runs and pet food stops will be mundane for him, but this time it was new and extraordinary. He expanded his palate and discovered a new animal friend.
And I am beyond pleased that I recognized it as it was happening and slowed down to let him soak in the novelty and expand his horizons.
If you are looking for a Monday pick-me-up, please join me over at Lydia's place for wonderful encouragement in the spirit of the sisterhood of mothering!