Turns out, it’s not as easy as you would think it would be to introduce a child to the concept of seasons.
Let’s say your child or grandchild is 5 years old. I can say that, because my grandgirl is 5.
And let’s say that you sit down one day and start reciting the names of seasons, one after the other, just the way they have rolled along for all the years and centuries since creation, or at least the part of it that you’ve known anything about.
“Spring, summer, fall, winter,” you say. Or maybe you say autumn. It doesn’t matter. “Spring, summer, fall, winter.”
And then you remind this precious child that spring is the season with bunnies and flowers, and summer is hot and you go swimming, and fall is when the trees all change colors, and winter is when it snows.
Well, in my case, I’ve had almost 60 years of observation and experience to confirm this pattern of seasonal progress, so it’s easy for me to recite that list without much thought whatsoever.
But I am quickly reminded that for someone who is only 5 years old, it’s not quite so obvious.
After all, we have to acknowledge right off the bat that her level of seasonal awareness was probably not too keen for at least the first two years of her existence.
And in the three years that have remained, let’s be honest: A child’s concept of time is not exactly based on, well, time.
She says she is 5 years old only because that’s what her Mommy and Daddy have told her, with big smiles and hugs, but beyond that, there is no understand of what five years is, or was, or means, and certainly no idea of how long it is.
Yesterday, today, tomorrow – what’s the difference, really?
Soon, in a minute, wait, later – vague, confusing words that don’t mean much of anything except to prompt the child to ask again and again about when a certain something is going to happen.
“Spring, summer, fall, winter,” I repeat, and then I suggest, “Now you try.”
“Spring, Christmas, winter ….”
“Well, almost; let’s try again.”
“Spring, swimming ….”
“Close, close. Listen: Spring, summer, fall, winter. Say it with me: Spring ….”
“Spring – can we go swimming in the spring?”
“Well, usually not; swimming is what we do in the summer when it’s hot. Okay, now, here we go: Spring, summer, fall – ”
“Does the Easter bunny know Santa Claus?”
“What? Uh, well, yes, I think so. Easter is spring and Santa Claus, I mean, Christmas is winter. But – ”
“Easter, Christmas – and my birthday! Can we go swimming on my birthday?”
“Well, your birthday is in February, so that’s winter, so …”
“Spring, hot, cold, Sunday, church!”
What can you say to that, really, except just to laugh, and to hug your little one and to accept with gratitude the knowledge that all the time this child has ever known in the whole wide world has been filled with happy memories and people who love her.
So you set this project aside for another time, another season, and embrace the moment of right now.