“What should I color this duck?” I asked Emma pointing to the duck on the coloring sheet. She squirmed in my lap, balancing all her weight on my right thigh.
“Ummm, this blue,” she hands me a dark blue. I was thinking yellow, but that is pretty boring. I took the blue marker from her with my left hand and very carefully started to fill in the black lines of the duck. Emma’s perch on my right leg, blocked out my ability to use my right hand, she often does this when we color together. I just decided to try to use my weaker hand, making coloring a more challenging exercise for myself. Instead of thinking about all the things I could be doing I tell myself that I am exercising my brain.
Sad that I have to trick myself to play with my child. When she asks me to play ‘tea party’ or ‘dragons’ there are about a million things that bounce through my head that need more ‘doing,’ than spending time with my child.
I remember watching a friend of mine groan while putting shoes on her child,
“I can’t wait until this stage is over, and they can do things for themselves,” I remember watching her and thinking that she had just made this stage so much worse by wishing it away. Subconsciously I absorbed this and have not focused on the stages that my girls are in, I just try to enjoy them. I will be more thankful when my interests and Emma’s collide.
Later that day,
“Mom, can I have some juice in my owl cup?” I hear her a small voice at my elbow during dinner. Knowing full well that I probably cannot find her ‘owl cup’ and don’t want to waste valuable eating time looking for said cup I lean over, our foreheads connect, her blue eyes are expanded into one,
“Yes, you can have juice, but you have to promise not to freak out if I can’t find your owl cup,” I reply.
“Okay,” she says and returns to playing at eating her dinner. I push back my chair and find the nearest sippy cup I can, not the ‘owl cup,’ fill it with half juice and half water and give it to my waiting daughter.
She did not freak out. She accepted the cup and drank away.
Why? Why this time was it okay? So many other times when I have given her the ‘wrong cup’ it has gotten a less than charming reception. A vague thought simmered at the back of my head that because I had spent time with her that afternoon, listening to her, showing her that I value her, and that I value her opinion that the absence of an ‘owl cup’ might not be that earth shattering. Her need to assert herself was diminished because she had her needs met that day.
Whenever she starts to fall apart on a regular basis Scott and I will take the time to do something special for her. Spend some intentional time with her, and always, always, her behavior improves afterward. I have to remind myself of this so often, because it is so easy to refuse her invitations to play. There are always more important things to do.
But what is more important than shaping the little life that I was entrusted to care for?