I have a 3 year old daughter (4 in a couple weeks), who has, with all the persistence in the world and on her own prompting, learned to ride her brother's bike. She decided to take said bike on our walk last night, and while I tried to sway her into taking her scooter, ultimately the bike came (even after she had a couple nasty spills close to our home just minutes before leaving). I tell you this because I observed some interesting things as I watched my two older children but especially her. Collectively, I watched them sway, I watched a few more pretty bad falls, and I watched them go in directions that they thought were right, but were ultimately wrong because they didn't know the way we were going.
After my daughter fell hard twice within about 10 feet (still surprisingly getting back on without any prompting from me but crying a little and a bit scraped up), I asked her where she was looking. What wasn't surprising was her answer, "I was looking at the street." Well, I'm sure you know where this is going, she was consistently falling into the street. And whenever each of my children swayed or veered off course it was because something had caught their eye and they no longer were looking forward.
I love the picture at the top here.... while I don't think they're considered a gaggle since they're ducks, it shows exactly how I feel about my "gaggle" and often how we look when out in public! Anyway, the best advice I gave my daughter last night was to look at her brother. He was in front of her, and as long as she was looking at him and not at the silly middle school kids running amuck and being goofey, or in the street, she stayed right on track. Interestingly enough, I also noticed that when my older son would look back at me he would start running off the sidewalk as well. From this it reminded me that we always have to be moving forward. We have to leave the past in the past, and keep our eyes focused ahead or else we aren't going to make it!
My last little thought came from my two sons that I pushed in the stroller who were watching my older children. Every move that the older kids made was observed and cataloged by them!
I know we were just out for a little evening exercise/fun, but what I came back with were life lessons. My little ones are absolutely looking to my older children for cues on how to act and where to go... and my older children, without a focus, will head into pathways that will be hard and painful... which ultimately will be unfulfilling because they won't be where they want to be in the end (how's that for a run-on sentence?).
So, where are we looking? Are we following our older brother and learning how to walk straight down the road? Are we consciously choosing to look at and take in the things around us even though we know that the only outcome is falling? And who is following us?