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Mom Takes Notes: Rock Collecting


Published October 6, 2020 at 10:00 a.m.

  • Elisa Järnefelt

Since my daughter was born three years ago, there are many things she has taught me. Some of the lessons feel profound. I have learned to be less rigid in my vision of what parenting should look like. I have learned to wait at least three days, preferably a couple of weeks, until declaring that things like her sleep patterns or tantrums are a problem — because many of those "problems" just solve themselves.

Then, there are other kinds of lessons, ones that seem so small or insignificant that sometimes I almost don't realize that they are lessons at all.

One of these lessons relates to my daughter's collection of rocks. It would be easy to shrug off the ever-growing pile by the corner of our house as just as a pile of rocks. Sometimes I feel frustration when, once again, the bottom of the stroller is filled with stones that are all important to her.

But mostly, I am in awe of the endless possibilities of a rock. Is there anything else that can be, simultaneously, an owl, a whale, a ladybug and a car; a house or a piece of a nest; a painting surface for a compassionate message hidden by a trail; so very hard and yet molded smooth by mere water; a treasure, a holder of fossils, a holder of memory and something to hold on to?

As Byrd Baylor wrote in her 1974 book Everybody Needs a Rock, my daughter has taught me: "Everybody needs a rock. I'm sorry for kids who don't have a rock for a friend."

This article was originally published in Seven Days' monthly parenting magazine, Kids VT.