A Walk to Remember

How are you dealing with the Coronavirus, social distancing, and events, public spaces, and businesses being shut down?

One way my family is adjusting is by doing what we normally do on nice days — we go for a walk. I see the walk through a different lens though nowadays. Inside the house the virus can consume me, but outside I’m reminded how much things are the same. It helps that trees are budding and flowers blooming. Birds chirping, and seeing the occasional squirrel or neighborhood cat calms me.

My younger son and I decided to take a walk. While we start our walks walking side-by-side it almost never fails that before long my son is walking in front of me. He never walks in a straight line but goes back and forth, I can never gauge when he’s going to change direction and often comment that he walks like a cat, in that I’m always wondering when he’ll be underfoot (and I’ll trip over him).

For whatever reason on this particular walk I decided to ask him why he changes directions when he walks. He answered, “I like to walk on the flat parts. It feels better on my feet.” That had never occurred to me. Being on the spectrum, certain senses are heightened for him, it had never occurred to me that he thought about how his feet felt while walking on the ground. It’s not a sensation I’m tuned into. Our neighborhood sideways have lots of ups and downs from tree roots that have grown over time. I’m more concerned with tripping or falling if I don’t watch my step, and now I know my son is more concerned with finding the flatter path.

Having this realization calmed me even more. I’m not sure I would have asked the question I had of my son, or learned the answer if I hadn’t been forced to start looking at things differently outside. It’s a walk I’ll remember.

What do you and your family do to get you through this? What are you discovering during this time together?

Iā€™m Curious

What is your child curious about?

It was one of those days where work was running long, and I needed to pick up my son from an after school activity. I was on a conference call that required I listen into, not actively participate. When my son and his friend jumped in the car, I told them I was on a work call. My son knows this means I need you to be quiet so I can hear what’s being said, but his friend didn’t know this and began to ask questions.

“Who is on the call?”

“Can they hear me?”

“Why are you only listening?”

“Are you listening so you can see if the people on the phone are doing their job right?”

Thankfully the call was in full swing by the time I had gotten the kids and I had a good handle on where the conversation was going and hearing everything that was being said was not quite as important as it had been earlier in the call. At first, when my son’s friend started asking questions I was trying to answer and still listen to the call. It was tough. Work can often feel like the priority, but his genuine interest in better understanding what was happening made me focus less on what was being said on the phone and more on him and what he was asking. It was clear to me he’d never heard someone on a conference call before (I was intrigued), and while I may see them as a necessity to get things done more quickly, he saw this as something new that he wanted to better understand. His curiosity was contagious. He was interested in learning and I was interested in sharing. Here’s how I answered his rapid fire questions. šŸ˜Š

“People that I work with”

“No, the phone is muted”

“Because I just need to hear what’s going on, I don’t need to say anything”

“I’m listening because it will help my team and I better understand what we need to do next. The people on the phone know how to do their jobs, I’ll just be better able to do mine if I know what needs to happen next.”

We arrived at his house not long after. His attention had turned back to my son and as they said goodbye I reflected on what had just happened. Having a young person that is curious and looking to you for answers is priceless. And while the work call was important, engaging with my son’s friend, even though briefly, was a better use of my time (and much more rewarding).

How are you encouraging your child’s curiosity?