Can I help you cook Mommy? It's too messy, it's too hot, we're in a hurry, maybe later ...
Can we go on a bike ride? Luke can't ride in the burley yet, it's too hot, it's time for lunch, it's raining, let's wait until Daddy gets home, maybe later ...
Can I go sledding? It's summer!
These are a few of the questions I get almost every day (yes, even the sledding one!), and the responses I find myself saying time and again.
The problem is, I want to say yes, but life seems to get in the way. As a child, all I remember is playing the days away and exploring the world with my sister. We were oblivious to the adult world of responsibility and obligation. What a different perspective I have now as a parent. I worry that I will transfer my stresses, fears, and anxieties on my children, when all I want is for them to have a childhood full of carefree days.
When else will they experience that feeling? Life just seems to get more complicated with each passing year.
I am doing my best to say yes more often to my children. It's true that we have too many trees to fly a kite at our house, and it is also true that Luke's body isn't quite strong enough to ride in the burley, but that just means we have to get creative :)
Saying yes means more messes to clean up, and more projects to plan, but it also brings more joy to my children and myself. So it's worth it. Even as the laundry piles up and the dishes take over the kitchen, it's worth it. After all, what do we want our children to remember about their childhoods? They won't remember the messes, the laundry or the dishes. They are going to remember the joy and laughter that comes from quality time spent with people who love them. At least that's what I'm banking on!
|Project day on the porch|
Now, I'm not kidding myself. I still say no. Sometimes you just have to, but I'm thinking through the questions before I go on autopilot with my "no" answer.
A couple of weeks ago we had a wonderful family reunion with my Mom's side of the family. On a last minute whim, I grabbed the kite as we left the house, knowing that if the wind was right and the sun was shining, I might be able to make my 5-year-old daughter a very happy girl ... What a lucky guess! After saying no day after day after day, I was FINALLY able to say yes!! That evening before bed she told me that "This was the best day ever!"
|Very serious about getting that kite to fly!|
|My nephew Gabriel flying the kite. Pure joy!|
Yup, it was worth it.
Colin is quite the 2-year-old. Stubborn, cute, ornery, sweet, cuddly, focused and passionate. He's my boy in the middle, sensitive and rough all in one. I'm trying to get some extra time with him with the hope that he won't get that left out feeling you always hear about from middle children. I'm sure I can't eliminate it completely, but I'm trying my best. That's about all we can do isn't it? Try, try again.
|After crashing the bike into the bushes|
Colin has decided that he likes to cook with Mommy.
Worth it again!
I spend a lot of time with Luke. I think more than I did with my other children at 5 months (although it's hard to remember!). Sometimes we are doing his physical therapy. Other times we are just talking to each other, or he is riding around the house with me in the Moby wrap. I already know my time with him has been worth it. He is a strong, interested, active, talkative baby who has the lovely combination of being content and determined at the same time. I enjoy every moment I spend with him and have loved to watch him grow and learn so much in only 5 months.
Spend the time.
Say yes whenever you can.
It will be worth it.
Say yes whenever you can.
It will be worth it.
This is one of my favorite excerpts from a book, and one that I think of often.
From: "Little Lamb, Who Made Thee?"
By: Walter Wangerin Jr.
Let the children laugh and be glad.
O my dear, they haven't long before the world assaults them. Allow them genuine laughter now. Laugh with them, till tears run down your faces - till a memory of pure delight and precious relationship is established within them, indestructible, personal, and forever.
Soon enough they'll meet faces unreasonably enraged. Soon enough they'll be accused of things they did not do. Soon enough they will suffer guilt at the hands of powerful people who can't accept their own guilt and who must dump it, therefore, on the weak. In that day the children must be strengthened by self-confidence so they can resist the criticism of fools. But self-confidence begins in the experience of childhood.
So give your children ... - give them golden days, their own pure days, in which they are so clearly and dearly beloved that they believe in love and in their own particular worth when love shall seem in short supply hereafter. Give them laughter.
Observe each child with individual attention to learn what triggers the guileless laugh in each. Is it a story? A game? Certain family traditions? Excursions? Elaborate fantasies? Simple winks? What?
Do that thing.
Because the laughter that is so easy in childhood must echo its encouragement a long, long time. A lifetime.