“Walk a little slower, Daddy,”
Said a child so small.
“I’m following in your footsteps
and I don’t want to fall.
Sometimes your steps are very fast,
Sometimes they’re hard to see;
So, walk a little slower, Daddy,
For you are leading me.
Someday when I’m all grown up,
You’re what I want to be;
Then I will have a little child
Who’ll want to follow me.
And I would want to lead just right,
And know that I was true;
So walk a little slower, Daddy,
For I must follow you.”
I’ve been reading books with my daughter since long before she had any idea what we were doing. Now that she’s almost two, I really do get the sense that she is following along, at least with some of the stories. When Mandy the monkey steals Ryder’s Pup Pad in one of her favorite Paw Patrol books, Adalynn will say, “Uh oh.” It’s really cute. She also requests books by name… sort of.
More recently, I’ve been going through a collection of nursery rhymes with her. (Thank you, Uncle Stephen.) Most of these are only a page or two long, illustrated with colorful pictures. We visit Old MacDonald’s animal-filled farm. We watch as a mother duck keeps losing her ducklings. We sing along as we point out her head, shoulders, knees and toes.
And then we came upon the nursery rhyme above. Titled “Father’s Day” and listed as having an unknown author, it reads like a poignant poem, one with a message far too profound for a two-year-old to comprehend. All she sees is a kid walking around with her father. All she hears is the rhythmic meter of the verse. Meanwhile, I almost teared up reading it to her.
It reminded me just how important it is to slow down and embrace the situation. Far too often, we find ourselves with steps that “are very fast,” letting the world race by us without really appreciating our surroundings. Sometimes we forget that there’s a little one straggling behind, reaching to hold our hand.
As much as I would like to think that I am the one teaching Adalynn about the world and preparing her for the challenges that will lay before her, the truth is she is teaching me a lot about life too. And how to handle it. And why we must all slow down. Why we must allow ourselves to accept life as it comes. Why we need to focus on the things that really matter and forget about the rest.
Actions will always speak louder than words. I hope that I am setting a positive example for my daughter, but I don’t want her to follow in my footsteps. I want her to walk next to me, as she guides me down her own path. Our path. Together, hand in hand.