I have just started to let child 4 "free range" when we are out. That is he can walk home from school without reins. Our walk home takes us through school grounds and a field before we have to cross any roads, so the journey is safe for the most part and it is a wonderful opportunity for some safe exploring.
Today after mother and toddler, then coffee with work friends he couldn't believe it when I let him out of the buggy to walk home. What normally takes about 15 minutes took 45. We followed the lane, picking up golden fallen leaves, throwing them in the air to watch them swirl and whirl in the wind. Have you ever noticed how when then wind takes them they spin and circle like the bath water does when the plug is pulled. We collect twigs and sticks, banging them together to make music. Then letting them go when we spot a drain, perfect for posting leaves between the bars. There is a bump halfway along the lane, perfect for clambering up, on two year old legs then turning and running back down. Just before the bridge that takes us over the by pass there is a fork in the path leading either side of a triangle of recently cut back bushes and trees, where piles of leaves sit invitingly, just waiting to be kicked through and tossed around into the wind.
He is flagging, tired. But daddy is here with the dog, his broad shoulders a perfect resting place for a little boy whose legs need a rest. The perfect spot to throw a ball from and the perfect viewing point to watch the dog chase and fetch the ball, to play again. Nearly home, time for lunch and a nap.
If you have the time and the patience a walk with a two year old, looking at the world through their eyes, reminds us of how beautiful the autumn is, with its colours of reds, golds and ambers. To feel the sun on our faces and the wind in our hair. To wonder where people in their cars or on the bus maybe travelling too. The excitement of climbing to the top of even the smallest slope and to run down the other side, to run into a dip and land in the leaves in its bottom. To feel the crisp dry leaves between your fingers as you gather handfuls up and throw them into the air, just to watch the wind swoop in and let them dance away. To run into a group of white and grey seagulls and watch them take to the air, the skies filled with their annoyed squawking. To watch you son, spot his dad and run to him! calling daddy. It's worth every second.