Off the Mat: Down the Drain

Down the Drain

Fascination with drains.

My two-year-old son and I sit beside the water in the Boston Public Garden. Picturesque landscaping, iconic swans, a steady stream of smiling passersby – business people, kids with caregivers, tourists of all ages. If it were duckling season, we’d be in a McCloskey picture book. Morning errands accomplished, there’s nothing to stop us from enjoying this beautiful sunny morning in one of the city’s finest spots.

Separation anxieties run high at the moment. It takes extensive coaxing for him to walk away from the water’s edge, across the foot path, and 2 feet into the lawn to throw away a wrapper in the nearest garbage can. When he finally accomplishes this Herculean feat, 3 onlookers (no joke!) applaud his success.

One, a police officer, rewards his bravery with a sticker badge. It’s even yellow, his favorite.  I’m telling you, it’s a picture book day.

Sticker comes on and off. On and off. Less sticky. More rumpled. Barely recognizable. Still the object of great fascination. So it’s only natural it would come into contact with another item of fascination. A drain. 

We put rocks in drains. Leaves and sticks. Never before something we wanted back.

It’s a shallow drain, designed for gentle storm clearance of small park paths. Bright yellow shiny paper stands out in stark contrast against brown leaves a mere 15 inches down.

Sdickuh, peese.

Sticker is down the drain, sweetie. We can’t get it back. Down drain is all gone.

Want it! Want sdickuh!

I’m sorry sweetie, but it’s gone. That’s why Mama said no put down drain.

Sdickuh wite dere! Want it!

And the sobbing begins.

We have nowhere to be. It’s a beautiful day. And – probably most important of all – the object in question is NOT my keys, phone, or anything of significance to me.

And so I sit. He cries. Sobs. Bawls. Weeps. Add your favorite synonym here – he goes on for quite a while. Sitting at his side by the open grate turned grave, I observe Kubler Ross’ full cycle of grief: we get denial, anger, bargaining, depression all rolled into one almost-30 lb. blond blubberer. I practice patience, reflective listening, sympathy and empathy. And he mourns.

A good 20 minutes on (I’m guessing, since the patience part keeps me from checking my phone for the time), a Mom with two girls comes to our aid. 4 and 2, the girls check out what this boy is crying about. Mom asks concerned, did you lose something down the drain?

Yes, I answer with a significant look. A sticker.

The mere mention of it sets off another round of bawling.

Other Mom chokes back a laugh. Oh, I’m sorry to hear that.

Yes, I answer, it’s very sad.

The girls join his vigil. Three kids now stare at a piece of yellow paper in a sewer.

Other Mom, or I should call her Experienced Mom, offers kindly I have some stickers here in my bag. Would you like another one?

Three little heads turn in attention. Stickers are distributed. Sobs shift to sniffs. And with a reminder of the train ride to come, he is willing to move on.


Now as then, time on my yoga mat helps me approach life off the mat with the sort of mindful attention I want to give my child, and myself. I’m better recognizing when I’m holding onto tension that hurts my body. Or clinging to ideas that no longer serve. Change is constant. All storms pass. Beauty exists even in messy moments. Little boys grow.

[Courtesy Photo via Ginny Hamilton]


Ginny Hamilton

Ginny is a yoga instructor, Reiki practitioner, gardener, activist, and middle aged Mama. She has put down roots in South Amherst with her spouse and young son. Daily she’s amazed by the beauty the Pioneer Valley offers, though her allergies beg to differ. She believes our natural state is to be balanced in body and mind so spirit can flow freely. Because modern life gets in the way, she offers self-healing bodywork to unravel imbalances and restore energy flow. In Off the Mat, Ginny explores how yoga’s physical and mindfulness exercises help her parent and how parenting shapes her yoga practice.

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