For me, the first lockdown seemed easier somehow as the weather was so much better. Yes - the children were at home and home schooling was a chore! But somehow, to me it seemed easier to do things first time round. Having to stay at home again today I was feeling really flat. I thought I'd cheer myself up by looking back over some of our holiday photographs. I found a photo of some pebbles we had found on our last holiday, which set me to reflecting on better times.
The weather in Wales on this particular day had been a little overcast and not beach type weather, but the children still wanted to go to the beach. So off we went, clambering down the steep, rocky, path until we eventually reached a wonderful pebble beach with a beachscape of layered rock and large boulders. It was truly a wonderful sight. And there was no one else there. So, with the feel of the sea-breeze on our faces, the smell of salt and seaweed, the sound of the sea lapping against the pebbles, we sat down and had our picnic, tired but happy.
Isn’t it amazing though, when children have eaten, how quickly their energy is recovered? Within minutes of finishing everybody was wandering round trying to decide what to do. Because we'd walked, we hadn't come equipped with buckets and spades which was just as well as it was a very pebbly beach. It was too cold to paddle, but too soon to embark on the return journey yet.
I cast my mind back to the days when I was a child and I remembered we used to have competitions, one of them being who could find the most interesting pebble. So that is what we did.
We set categories: Who could find, the smoothest, the smallest, the prettiest, the flattest, the roundest, the most colourful pebbles? You name it - we had a category for it. The children absolutely loved searching and comparing. All of them spent time sitting on the beach searching through different pebbles and putting their favourite ones into the different categories. From four years old to fifteen and two adults we were all engrossed in the beautiful shapes, colours and feel of the pebbles we found.
After a while we set about judging. It was really so hard to judge this competition as every stone on the beach is unique. Every single one beautiful in its’ own way and with merits the others didn’t have, if we took the time to find them.
There was a winner in every category, so everyone was successful, and all had some lovely reminders to take home. I have to say just two minutes before the end of the competition time I came across what ultimately became the winning 'most interesting shaped' pebble. (Just wanted to share it with you.)
The debate resounded, as did the wonder.
Does it look like a duck or a dog??
Everyone was amazed at just how nature could have produced such a brilliant shape. And how it had been spotted amongst all the other beautiful offerings!
“It’s all about keeping your eyes open and looking for amazing things,” said one of the children. And it is isn’t it? It is amazing what you can find when you’re looking. But you have to be looking!
Later in the day when the children were tired and had become a bit argumentative, each wanted the other to do something with them, play a game their way or do what they had chosen, and we were able to remind them that they are all different and should all be valued, just like the pebbles we had found. We helped them to find solutions so they could all co-operate, to play in a way they could all be included, have their turn to be chosen, like the winning pebble.
Sometimes taking time to look back and re-focus is so good for us too. And as I pack away the photos and walk out into the garden today, although it is cold, I see the pebbles we brought home with us, amongst the ornaments and plants on the patio.
And I will remember again now that there are so many good, simple and positive things to focus on right now. We just have to look for them. In ourselves, in our children, and in the world around us.