A while back, my husband and I took our kids to one of the local school playgrounds on the weekend because I needed them to stop messing up my clean house.
Judge me if you want. I can handle it. But in my defence, I had literally just spent a good amount of time cleaning the house so I felt like I was owed at least an hour of it looking like nobody lived there…even if I was forced to physically remove everyone from the house, myself included, to enjoy its cleanliness.
Anyway, we walked to the park for a play and it was one of those days when it had been raining, but then stopped and dried up a bit, but the field was wet and there were still puddles in the schoolyard’s dirt and gravel potholes. With weather like that, and the threat of more rain to come, it was really no surprise to me that a number of birds had gathered on the field, likely to seek some refuge from the stormy seaside.
It wasn’t our own school’s playground, it was another one, so there was lots to explore and keep busy with. My daughter instead opted to turn her back on the playground and look at the field full of birds. It wasn’t the flock of gulls my daughter fixated on. It was a curious crow that was lurking just on the outer edges of the playground.
I would love to know what her thought process was when she decided she wanted to catch the crow and maybe have a talk with it. It’s either from my own life experience or perhaps just that I’m kind of a pessimist by nature, but I knew what the outcome of chasing the crow would be. I didn’t tell her that, though. It was more fun to watch her figure it out herself.
I stood and watched as my four-year-old slowly crept up on the animal. And with one quick move she snapped the bird right up into her arms!
OK, that didn’t happen, but what a story it would have been! Naturally, every time she got within a metre, the smart little crow jumped away a few metres and the game would start again. She refused to give up.
Now, my daughter it objectively bright. That’s not just my assessment, people tell me all the time that she’s a smart kid. I couldn’t help but wonder what made her keep trying? Is she just an eternal optimist or did she truly believe she stood a chance despite trying and failing dozens upon dozens of times? I don’t know. What really struck a chord with me is when her brother offered to help her. An active five, he’s not as graceful or as gentle in his approach so, again, they failed miserably. Over and over again. Except that they weren’t miserable at all.
The pair giggled and whispered back and forth, planning their strategies and the crow, to its credit, played along. I know it wasn’t entirely hopeless optimism because my son is wired more like me than his hopeful sister. In fact, I was surprised both that he opted to help her and that he hadn’t given up sooner. Maybe it’s not that they cared to catch the bird at all. Maybe it was just the thrill of the chase and the joy of being outdoors, together, playing on the soggy grass at a school that wasn’t their own?
A few days later I was out running errands with my daughter when she started following a bird across an empty parking lot. I couldn’t help but ask her if she truly thought she was going to catch it.
“Yes!” she said matter-of-factly. Then she paused and looked at the bird and added. “OK, I’m not sure, but wouldn’t it be cool!?”
So, I still don’t know if it’s her naiveté or just unbridled optimism, but far be it from me to hold her back.
Go ahead and catch the bird, kid. Just please don’t bring it back to my clean house.