Life at Nico Speed

There's Nico, about to throw a rock in the creek.

A typical Friday for my wife or me starts with back-to-back meetings, plus a dozen or two frantic emails somehow squeezed in between.

Then, around 10 or 11am, one of us comes home to get our middle son, Nico (3-1/2), and our world slows down to Nico speed for a few hours. You see, we’ve made a commitment to spend some one-on-one time with him every week.

Today, it was my turn. We hopped on bikes and rode to the creek 2-1/2 blocks from our house. When we got down there, I immediately tried to check my iPhone for emails. Fortunately, I failed. The cell reception was so awful that I gave up.

From that point forward, I shut down the chatter in my brain, and Nico and I became peers. Not father and son. Peers. Buddies. As a matter of fact, I let him take control. I did whatever Nico wanted to do. It was pure bliss.
We hiked downstream to the dam we’d built a month before. We squished in the mud and dug up rocks. We hiked back upstream and foraged for sticks, and then we used the sticks to dig up more rocks. We tossed the rocks in a calm, deep part the creek, watching the splashes and the ripples we created. Then, we started to collect different kinds of leaves.

Uh-oh – I started hearing the chatter again. I looked at the time on my iPhone.

“Let’s go get lunch, Nico!”

“No, I wanna stay here and get leaves!”

Nico certainly didn’t hear any chatter. He was all there, at the creek.

I looked more closely at the leaves. Boy, there were a lot of them! I could see why Nico could be so completely immersed in the moment. All those leaves were a lot more interesting than whatever I could find on my iPhone. Seriously. What an amazing melange of shapes and colors! Once I really started looking at all the leaves, I found it difficult to think about anything else.

After another few dozen more leaves (a half hour? forty-five minutes?), Nico told me he was ready to eat lunch. His tummy told him he wanted to eat, not the clock on my iPhone.

The funny thing was, at that point, I was the one who didn’t want to leave the creek. I was living at Nico speed and enjoying the moment. I had totally forgotten about food, or about my afternoon appointments, for that matter.

After lunch, I took Nico home. As I whipped out my iPhone and downloaded the last few hours of emails, he went straight for the sand box. He started building a road with his toy bulldozer. All he could see were the hills and valleys of sand, his sand tools, and the cars and bulldozers in the sand box.

I was eager to restart my work day, but at the same time, I couldn’t help daydreaming for a moment that I was leaving my work life behind to hang with Nico the rest of the day.

I love living life at Nico speed, seeing the world through his eyes. I’m in no hurry to introduce him to iPhones and schedules. His life’s wonderful just as it is.

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One Response to Life at Nico Speed

  1. RobertH says:

    Thanks for sharing that, Mike!

    I experienced the same exact thing when I first took Nicholas to play in creeks or at the beach. I began to see nature the way he did, and once I was in the mode, I didn’t want to switch back.

    For the two of us, herping (looking for reptiles and amphibians) has since grown into an all-consuming passion. I am not sure anymore which one of of us is crazier about it. In any event, we spend every free minute out on the hill behind our house and take longer trips to visit different habitats on weekends. Life doesn’t get much better.

    What makes our shared passion unusual – after all, many dads spend lots of time with their sons – is that he was the one who introduced me to herping, not the other way around. So, I am quite secure in the knowledge that his passion is real and not just a reflection of my own. And my own passion for herping is also quite real by now, as I have realized that Nicholas introduced me to an activity that I would have enjoyed all along, but simply didn’t know about.

    There is much we can learn from our children 🙂