This is hard for me. With the constant flow of mostly jibber jabber coming in one ear and out the other (I kid you not: in the car the other day, Christina asked the following questions: why is the grass green? why do the worms live in the dirt? how does the rain get in the sky? snow is frozen rain, right? clouds are really made of water, right? and on and on and on and- oh. close the parentheses. )
Well, in any event, it's hard for me to stay completely in focus with these people all the time. This week, I'm working on that, and today we played playdough.
I sat down with the older girls, who were "skipping nap," and got out every one of the 24 colors of playdough Santa brought them back at Christmas. Then I went a little crazy with them and rescinded the No Mixing Colors rule. I suggested we make some food for a tea party, and they got to work.
Within half an hour, I knew which friends Amanda values the opinions of, I knew how much skipping nap means to Christina, Bethany told me that she really does want to share her birthday with Elizabeth forever. We had playdough spaghetti and meatballs, mixed berry pies and tarts, a whole slew of cookies- mostly seahorses and Christmas trees- and each girl stopped at least once and said, "I can't believe you're playing playdough with us."
Amanda said, "I thought playdough was for little kids but I guess if you're playing, Mama..."
In that moment, I realized that a key part of my parenting schtick was wrong, wrong, wrong. Somewhere along the way, I picked up a belief that I am the mom, not the playmate. I do the mom things, and the children play. My brain flashed over to Deuteronomy 6, where the commandment is to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength, and to talk about those things when you sit at home, when you walk on the road, when you lie down and when you get up.
If I'm sitting, and the kids are playing, or if we're working on something but not together, how can I do that?
I see a rousing game of pattern blocks in our future for tomorrow, after we laugh our heads off to another chapter of Gooney Bird Greene. I'm going to queue up some youtube videos of fire trucks running lights and sirens to watch with my boy in the morning. He loves that stuff.
I didn't realize how quickly being all there with my kids would send me back to the One who is the source of every good thing.
If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good things who ask him! Matthew 7:11