Yesterday all four of us headed to the park. The plan was that I would run three miles while my husband played on the playground with the kids. Next my husband would run four miles while I played with the kids. Our plan was a good one, but sometimes plans need altered.
Before I had kids I remember my older cousin and her friends talking with great emotion about the day their first child went to Kindergarten. They were all, in my opinion, over dramatic about a natural step in a child’s life. If anything the child has cause for nervousness, not the mothers for goodness sake. Years later, as I recall those conversations, now a mother myself, I get it. In six months my first “baby” will step on the school bus and ride down the road away from me, and I have mixed emotions.
My daughter loves to play with baby dolls. Of course, she is always the mommy and anyone willing to play with her is the baby. It’s a fun imaginative game and most people, and always her babies and stuffed animals, are willing to play along.
At one point, I became the big sister. Not entirely a bad role, but as the big sister she had control over me and pretty much told me what to do, and even disciplined me if I didn’t comply. Initially it tickled me, and it made me giggle because she was mocking me.
By 8:20 a.m. today I had already helped my kids paint (aka make a giant mess) and cover the entire table with markers, colored pencils and paper (aka another mess). On their own, they littered the house with their toys. Oh yes, it was that kind of morning — and not the kind where I had captured their minds and attention, but the kind where we got nothing accomplished except turn the house upside down.
Mind you, all of this happened by 8:20 a.m.
Thereafter, to salvage the morning, I thought it a good idea to make a birthday card for my brother and insert some of their art. You know, to center us all on a specific project instead of the free-for-all that had just occurred.
My daughter jumped on board and started taking markers to Strawberry Shortcake’s face in a coloring book while my son begrudgingly complied. He started coloring a picture of two deer with colored pencils, but I could tell his heart wasn’t in it. I started off on a tirade about giving to others and how much my brother would like this card. I rattled on and on about all the reasons why he should continue. It didn’t work and he got annoyed. Exasperated I told him to take a break, find something else to do and try coming back to it later. You can’t force the act of giving with kids.
I enjoy spending time by myself. Mostly because I have two small children that demand many of my waking hours, and when I can separate myself from them here and there, it’s a beautiful time.
Today I was lucky enough to do two beautiful things by myself. I went to Panera and ate a bowl of black bean soup, a bag of potato chips, and a drank an iced green tea. As I dined, I took note of my surroundings. Many kids. I watched mother’s wrangling their charges – carrying, chasing after, coercing them to follow, or demanding they sit down and eat.
In the case of unreasonable behaviors vs. legitimate complaints when it comes to toddlerdum, parents be wary — it’s a fine line to walk.
Case in point:
My husband, mother-in-law, and I took my two children to a kiddie amusement park filled with Christmas cheer, shows, rides, Sesame Street characters, song, dance, lights, and a parade. The place screamed, Merry Christmas, kids! Go have fun! Adults, too!
And fun we had. We stayed for five hours, despite being outside in the December chill. We took in a show in an outdoor amphitheater, rode as many rides as the kids wanted to, watched the parade, and saw Santa.
My almost five-year-old son was still rocking to the beat, a rainbow unicorn lollipop in hand, as we left the park. Watching his joyful heart sing with glee was worth every minute we spent there. If there were a magazine called, The Magical World of Childhood, he would have been the on the cover.
My daughter on the other hand, not yet three, was a different story as we left the park.