Most of us cannot remember much from when we were 3 years old. I can recall a number of things from that time in my life but some of my family and friends cannot recall much before kindergarten.
That’s too bad because at that age we see the world much differently than when we’re older. At that age we see the world with much more awe and wonder.
I was reminded of this earlier this month when I spent the Fourth of July with a friend and her family including her grandchildren who are ages 3 years and 15 months.
When I arrived that morning, 3- year old Eliza greeted me with an ice cream bucket in her hand. “Arvid, I’m going to get treats!” she exclaimed.
Stupid me, I couldn’t figure it out. It wasn’t Halloween. Where was this excited little girl going to get treats in July?
I was quickly reminded that treats are tossed out along the Fourth of July parade route. Eliza remembered treats from a parade earlier this summer. While I was looking forward to the parade, treats never came to my mind.
Once we were comfortably seated along the parade route Eliza waited patiently for the parade to begin, bucket in hand.
Soon the sheriff’s vehicle came down the street with emergency lights flashing with the American Legion color guard marching briskly behind.
Before long the first parade entry tossing out candy came by and Eliza joined the other children seated nearby in scrambling to pick up candy on the street.
While I wouldn’t have left my lawn chair for anything short of a DQ Blizzard, Eliza scrambled, easily stooping to pick up one sugary treasure after another.
It wasn’t long before Eliza’s bucket was about a quarter full. “Look, Arvid!” she said enthusiastically as she displayed her bounty.
The parade continued. Several people walked along a float and one of them handed Eliza a rubber duck. With eyes dancing, Eliza proudly held up the duck for all to see.
While Eliza was in the height of glory, I sat lazily waiting for the old cars and old tractors to pass by.
By the time the parade ended, Eliza’s bucket was full of candy, tiny toys and a rubber duck. The past hour had been enjoyable for me but for Eliza it had been one of the best of her life, dampened only by a wise mother who advised that her consumption of the treats would be tightly regulated.
From the parade route we walked to the town park where the local Lions Club was operating a small kiddie train and a jump house. Eliza rode on the train with her little brother and her aunt. She waved enthusiastically when she saw us, her eyes shining with enthusiasm.
Cute little train, I thought. To Eliza it was an adventure.
The jump house. What old guy would want to jump on an air-supported floor, risking a back injury or embarrassing himself in front of spectators?
Eliza had a ball and exited the jump house exhilarated.
After a lunch of brats and burgers I was content to sit and let the meal settle. Not Eliza. She ran from the dining room into the living room and soon I heard her say, “Arvid, come and play with me.” I had helped her stack blocks a few weeks earlier and she remembered.
We arrived at the site of the evening’s fireworks display early to secure a good place to set up our lawn chairs. Again, Eliza found something fascinating every minute.
Some older kids were playing with toys that shot out bits of confetti. Eliza chased after the tiny pieces of paper, picking them up and bringing them to Grandma to see. I was getting tired just watching her but Eliza was fascinated with the bits of colorful paper.
When the fireworks began Eliza was quickly captivated by the colorful displays and loud explosions. While I thought the fireworks were very nice Eliza was awestruck.
Too soon, it seems, we lose the exuberance of childhood and in doing so we lose the ability to see the true beauty of the world around us. As adults we too seldom see the world with awe and wonder.