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I walk into the grocery store, drive by Ashley Pond and meander down the sidewalks of Los Alamos almost every day, but recently I questioned just how much I see my surroundings.
A few hours spent with my oldest nephew opened my eyes to everything this community offers.
Saturday, my sister took her daughter to a ballet show, dropped her youngest son at our parent’s house while Connor hung out with me for a few hours.
When his sister and mother drove off, I led Connor down to Ashley Pond to feed the ducks and geese bits of leftover stale pita bread that was in my fridge.
After we watched the geese and the ducks gobble down the bits of bread, my nephew pointed out “Corky,” the colt sculpture. Previously I had not given this particular piece of art any attention. Additionally, Connor showed me his favorite sculpture, a fish that appears to be diving into the pond’s waters on a bronze arch. I gazed at the fish, noticing for the first time that it had circular discs for its scales.
I realized that I take a lot around this town for granted – and it was a 5-year-old who pulled back the curtain on all that I have missed.
Walking back home from the park, Connor explained to me that the red spray painted lines on the sidewalk were actually fire bombs and should not be stepped on. The red dots, however, were friendly caterpillars, which seemed to be OK to squish.
All the way home, we dodged fire bombs and met up with friendly round critters. As I watched an adult stroll down the sidewalk on the opposite side of the street, I wondered if he knew about the firebombs he stepped on at random or considered all the fun he was missing by ignoring them.
Walking into the grocery store, Connor pulled me over to show me the game at the front of the store. A yellow box is filled with stuffed, cartoon-like animals that its metal claw will snatch up for those who feed it 50 cents.
I barely acknowledge that game’s existence when I go into the store. But on Saturday I stood at the front entrance of Smith’s Food and Drug, amazed that this mechanical vendor was in the store all this time and I never spotted it. I was further surprised to discover that my nephew thought its inventory was spectacular. It all looked like junk to me. When did my standards change? At what point in my life did priceless items get demoted to useless clutter?
Having my nephew around was excellent. I felt I took a quick break from being an adult and gained entry into a child’s world.
But even more valuable to me was how eager Connor was to invite me into his world. Even though I am older, slower and less imaginative, he still extended his hand to me to join in his fun.
I couldn’t ask for anything more.