I silently join her on the floor, stacking and unstacking the cups she is not using.

My granddaughter is playing with twelve brightly colored plastic stacking cups that fit neatly inside each other in exact size order. Four colors form a repeating pattern from large to small: yellow, red, blue, green. The pattern repeats three times. Each cup has a large number imprinted on the bottom inside, a different animal embossed on the outside. We also use these cups to form an impression in Play Dough or wet sand, or stack them upside down to form a tower. The sound of the tower falling on a wooden floor, cups rolling everywhere, causes much laughter.

She is almost three and shows me the four largest cups inside each other in size order.

I said, “Close your eyes and I’ll mix them up again.”

It is a game we play. She loves this game.

I am curious how she learns. Over and over, she repeats what does not work (trying to fit the larger red cup inside the smaller blue one), corrects it (removing the blue cup from the yellow one, placing the red one inside first and then the blue one), and completes the task (placing the final green cup inside the blue one).

She claps for herself each time the puzzle is solved, only to have me pick it up and say, “Close your eyes,” as I again rearrange the cups.

We play this game over and over. I tell her to open her eyes again. She does something so quickly I almost miss it.

She pauses to survey the cups before her hands reach for the largest one.

She continues to pause first each time until she learns the pattern. She begins to experiment with stacking the tower in different ways, knocking it over with delight.

I think I am helping her learn patterns with a game. I discover she is reminding me of the importance of pause in my life.

Mentastics Minute:
– Practice pausing (even for 10 seconds), in various situations, notice when curiosity climbs.
– Set a timer for a 60 second pause, notice any physical tension, and take slow deep breaths.