Want to experience living in the moment? Find a toddler!

Want more exercise? How about practicing getting up and down off the floor over and over and over again? Need a break from social media? You won’t have any trouble giving up screen time! How about experiencing the joy of a longer day that isn’t marked by always thinking “what’s next?”

I’ve enjoyed three glorious weeks with a very companionable 19-month old. He’s a little busy-body, and my days were spent keeping up with him!

I’d love to share more photos of my grandson, but mom and dad are wisely protective of his image, and I respect that.

Circumstances allowed us to be together for a full three weeks, dividing experience between time in his home in Northern California, with a return family trip to Southern California.

We have enjoyed long walks following the active neighborhood squirrels and the birds, played with his dog, Obi, and then our Zena, thrown and chased after balls and spent time at the piano singing “Wheels on the Bus” more times than I can count.

And to my delight, he loves books, so when I couldn’t run alongside any longer, the promise of “story time” always worked to quiet us both down.

We did share one particular outing that I thought would be fun to share with you.

In 1948 Oakland businessman Arthur Navlet took his proposal for a storybook theme park to the Lake Merritt Breakfast Club, a civic betterment group, and with citizen participation Children’s Fairyland was built on the shores of Lake Merritt, and has remained a popular city fixture since it opened in 1950. It’s even said that Walt Disney toured at one time while gathering ideas for his future endeavor.

Fairyland achieved non-profit status in 1994 and has been able to maintain modest admission price, even able to waive the cost of admission for some 4,000 low-income children each year.

Because I was following a little guy at every twist and turn, my photos don’t even come close to sharing the scope of this happy place geared to very young children and their families.

There are 10 acres of animals, water play, a little train, sand pits with boats that bobble and rock, multiple climbing structures, and small rides, and the beauty is that unlike most amusement parks, this park is aimed for the youngest crowd. At 19-months old, our little one has amazing freedom to explore and run free!

Most days we didn’t need outings to keep us entertained. At his age, just having his Nan sitting on the floor with him while we played together with toys and chatter, was quite enough.

Thanks to Spotify, I found children’s playlists enjoyable throughout our time together, accessing every version I could find of “The Wheels on the Bus,” his favorite request.

One afternoon as we sat on the floor constructing with his blocks I noticed the playlist had jumped to a nursery rhyme song list. We all know that some of those nursery rhymes are a little sketchy. But I laughed out loud and changed “channels” when I heard these words:

Goosey goosey gander, Whither shall I wander? Upstairs and downstairs and in my lady’s chamber. There I met an old man who wouldn’t say his prayers, so I took him by his left leg and threw him down the stairs.”


Even put to music these aren’t the best lyrics for children. Who thought they were?

I did look up the history and learned that it’s believed the words refer to priest holes, or hiding places for itinerant Catholic priests during the persecutions under King Henry VIII and later, Oliver Cromwell. Still a very strange song for children.

I enjoyed the aspect of giving my full attention to my precious little one. There were benefits to both of us.

Being truly in the moment makes time slow down. A day doesn’t flit by and allowing him to provide the framework of our activity felt like a gift to his development, and reciprocally a gift to me.

I might need a week or two to rest, but then I’ll be hinting to my son and daughter-in-law asking if they could use a part-time nanny for another week or so?