Garrett said to me last week, we really let the kids down the past several days. There was no avoiding it; he was flat on his back with the stomach flu for 4 or 5 days and I had a deadline looming that ultimately required me to stay up all night, my foot chained to the quilting frame.
Somehow we hobbled along and kept everyone fed (takeout and crackers and cheese maybe, but fed nonetheless) but that’s about it. I’m not sure but I think they spent most of the four days memorizing whatever SpongeBob episodes they could find on Netflix and helping themselves to copious amounts of the chocolates we had put out for our Thanksgiving guests. (So they may not have thought it was a bad weekend at all, but my gut says otherwise…) So, these times come for everyone and I know this, but now it’s time for the pendulum to swing back the other way. We just started a new session of homeschooling anyway, so it was a perfect time to remember to be firm on the “no TV during school weeks” rule and spend more time on productive things together.
We sat at the kitchen table together. The 3 year old practiced cutting up sale flyers with her own pink scissors and with the baby on my lap I made up silly sentences for the 8 year old to diagram. He loves diagramming sentences; I can see his mind whirring away as he works, discovering new little conventions of sentence structure which he gleefully describes to me.
Later we played with finger paint. Violet wasn’t sure she wanted to be dirty and spent more time at the sink than actually painting.
But each time she got cleaned up, she saw her brother at the table still having fun, and so she would decide to join back in.
Gus painted a picture of Jupiter’s great red spot. He was excited that his hands were totally red by the time he was done and I made a lame crack that I had caught him “red-handed”. Boy that joke tickled his ribs- he must have laughed for 10 minutes about it. It even made it into the evening recap he gave to Garrett upon his arrival home from work. 🙂 8-year-old humor!
They painted with their fingers, they painted with brushes, they used finger paint and acrylics and even the colored water left from cleaning the brushes and different kinds of paper too.
Before dinner Gus and I started a new math unit about geometry for which I introduced him to the protractor, and he relished measuring a bunch of angles I drew out. Violet wanted a turn with it and I believe she used it as some sort of splint for her (stuffed) puppy’s leg. We unloaded and loaded the dishwasher twice together, even though it takes a 3 year old exactly 17 minutes to empty a silverware basket, because I know it is important for them to pitch in whatever their skill level.
The dining room is filled with drying artwork as well as beautiful flowers still left from Thanksgiving, we had breakfast-for-supper, a kid favorite, and I went through the familiar routine of helping Violet into Hello Kitty pajamas and brushing teeth, reading The Very Hungry Caterpillar together (they are not plums; they are blueberries, she insists every time) and tucking her under her fluffy comforter with a kiss and an I love you. We talk for a while about happy thoughts for pleasant dreams, and then I ease myself downstairs. Now Evelyn is nursing in my lap as I type this. It was a good day.
These are the days I dreamed about before I was a parent. Not the vacations or high school graduation or any of that “big” stuff. Just a simple day of being together, with some fun and some silliness and some learning, and a whole lot of love and warmth. I am doing my best to remind myself of those simple dreams.
If you asked me what the most important things in my life are, I would list things like: doing things with my family, doing things for my family, feeling secure and loved, making things by hand, having a creative outlet. Things like that.
But lately it has occurred to me that, if you didn’t ask me the question but instead decided to watch me for a day or two and try to figure out what was most important to me, you would list things like: reading things on the internet, reading things on my phone, cleaning up the ever-messy kitchen, and trying to keep the kids from thundering around and screaming too much in the house. Well, and nursing the baby. That is important to me. But what I mean is, I know what’s important to me in my heart, and it seems now is a good time to try to rededicate myself to being fully present in this life I am crafting instead of always having my mind on things in the future, things that are not getting done. To make sure that the things, the people, the ideals that I hold most dearly are actually receiving the benefit of my time.