Before you have kids, you think you know what some of the best moments of having children are. Ironically, most of the moments that come to mind aren’t necessarily the one that really make being a parent such a wonderful thing.
While things like baby’s first words, baby’s first steps, and all the other baby firsts, are indeed amazing, thrilling moments for any parent, it is the other tiny moments that really are the best things about being a dad. I’m talking about those dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of little things between you and your child that are special not because they are huge milestones, but because they are those wonderful little moments filled with wonder, awe, love, or amazement. These are the moments that make having a great baby journal so important.
Recently, I posted about how cargo shorts (or cargo pants) are essential dad gear because of their ability to carry all manner of “little things” required for those events that might not necessitate a whole diaper bag, but that definitely require certain supplies for maximum success and enjoyment. In the comments Alicia mentioned that another value of cargo shorts was their ability to handle the “rock and stick collection.” I burst into a wide grin and nearly laughed out loud. I thought we were the only ones!
A quick check with other parents who are friends of ours confirmed that the walking toddler’s rock and stick collection is actually very common. Those of you who are already dads might be smiling with recognition right now. For those of you whose children are not yet walking (or walking outside, that is) or for those of you dads to be, let me explain.
Once a toddler can walk on their own, they will eventually begin walking outside. This often involves going for walks because they are good walking practice on a different type of surface, great for getting fresh air and sunshine, and because they can help tire out an energy-packed toddler. On these walks, toddlers will be discovering new things that had previously been either unseen, or out of reach as they were carried, or pushed about in a stroller. One of these many fascinating new discoveries will be rocks, and another will be sticks.
After spending plenty of time responding with “no” to the kid’s desire to pick up many other less savory objects, most dads are plenty glad to let Junior pick up a rock or a stick that he finds laying on the ground. After retrieving their prize, the child will want to keep it, and again, seeing no harm, many parents will say, “Sure.” Upon arriving at home, the child will want to keep it, and this is where the average Mom and Dad have to draw the line, in order to avoid both spreading dirt around the house and finding a dirty rock at 3:00 AM in the toddler’s sheets which they rolled onto while sleeping and woke up upset.
As a compromise, Dad or Mom will offer to keep the rock or stick in a special place. Though the toddler will likely never come back to that particular rock or stick, they will undoubtedly find others just as meaningful and necessary to both carry and keep as the first one.
Sentimental parents will find a certain number of them endearing and keep them as a memento of their child’s wide-eyed innocence and amazement as they discovered the world on those first walking adventures. Then, the rock-stick collection becomes something even more meaningful that it was originally. Ours is on the mantel in a vase that once held just one or two sticks and a half-dozen rocks. Today, it is a virtual bouquet of sticks and filled half-way up with rocks.
Do you or your child have a rock and stick collection? Where do you keep it?
What little things come to your mind when you think about the greatest moments of being a parent so far?