Life changes over time while we aren’t paying attention. Seems obvious doesn’t it? Yet, somehow it always strikes me when I least expect it. I seem to, in my little love of routine ways and days, live by a set of rules and facts that I tick off daily in my head until something stops me short and I suddenly see my world is different than it was when those old “facts” registered in my brain.
The day after Christmas EVERYONE needed to get out of the house. We had spent the last 4 days together anticipating & planning, decorating & gifting, baking & cooking, cleaning & cuddling, arguing & apologizing each day in our very soley indoors world. We enjoyed our holidays together, just the 5 of us with a couple of outings with local friends and many phone calls to relatives who we couldn’t be with. The food was fun and tasty, the gifts were well loved and cheered over. The sleep was much needed. The motrin and cold medicine for various runny noses, bulging gums and infected sinuses was widely heralded.
Unfortunately it rained. Pretty much non-stop. So The Sistred was needless to say, a bit cooped up. As were the parents. Although we had plenty of things on our to-do list to get done, we decided to look the other way, pack up our drinks and crackers and head to town to the Children’s Museum and a late pizza lunch. The baby is still portable enough and the older girls are always eager to be on the go. So even though we arrived at lunch and naptime, after having had to restuff feet in to new twinkling shoes multiple times as well as wipe down an extremely markered set of legs, hands and feet, we all played well. For the most part. Some of us would have liked to shop longer in the market. Some of us would have liked to gather flowers and carrots longer in the farm. Some of us would have liked to spend more time perfecting our loop-de-loop on the race track. But the real gift of this trip was the little bit of glass clearing I was given.
I have this image in my head of what my girls and I can and can’t do. How we can and can’t spend our time, energy and money. Parks- we’re in. Grocery shopping- surprisingly entertaining. Gymnastics or tumbling opportunities- yes- please! Muffin/cookie/cake baking- grab an apron and a whisk! Storytime at the library- um, no.
Really nothing that involves sitting still in quiet places with judging others eyeing us, well judgmentally. You know that look- that- “My kid would never act that way” kind of look? Well I’ve developed an art for avoiding it.
At precisely 1pm, the children’s educator in the museum was hosting what I heard to be a mitten-making activity. Once Zuzu decided she was ok with the fact that they were paper mittens and not actually knit goods we decided to head up. Especially considering the “great love” of all things arts and crafty by the aforementioned little markered one.
So in we go. I notice a mitten poem on the wall. Crafts set at the table and a pile of pillows. All arranged around a stool. Just as my kiddos assume the front row, I see the educator pull out a book. About mittens. Um. Not just arts and craft time. Storytime. Sigh.
Years ago I tried to do the good mommy activity that I remember loving from my own childhood. To this day I love being read to. I prefer a book on audio if there is a choice. Our little wildflower Zuzu though, she wanted to be the one reading the book during storytime. Decorating the room. Leading the conga line. What? Your storytime doesn’t have a conga line? Yeah, well ours didn’t either. But I was hard-pressed to convince Zuzu of that. After about 3 attempts. Each one ending in her bitter tears at my chiding again to sit down and be quiet; I came to the conclusion that it wasn’t worth it. I didn’t need to be that angry. She didn’t need to be that contained. There were plenty of other activities that we could be spending our time doing that wouldn’t result in so much frustration on both ends. So we stopped going. And I tacked that rule up on my mental chalkboard. No storytime.
That was at least 4 years ago. With my single 2-year-old. So I eyed the craft tables longingly and leaned forward ready to give my sharpest raised eye-brow at any signs of Thunderdome brewing between the Sistred. But what to my wondering eyes should appear? Nothing. Zuzu raised her hand to ask questions and answer the educator. The Quail stayed put and listened attentively to the story. (It didn’t hurt that the story was about a yellow mitten- her favorite color). And the baby played happily on the other side of the room with Lovey. The educator fortunately forgot her poem and we moved in to the craft activity of making mittens fairly quickly. Zuzu was enthralled with learning about symmetry as Ms. Valerie praised her paper mittens and the neighboring tables kindly offered up matching sequins and stickers as she made her sparkly fashionista choices. The Quail entertained herself with crayons, gluesticks, sequins and stickers as well and 30 minutes later we emerged back into the museum unscathed and unjudged with 2 pairs of paper mittens and a semi-empty hall to twirl our way back into oblivion.
Later over steaming hot slices and a nice brown ale with some John Prine on the jukebox; I made a point to praise Zuzu for how well she did in storytime and how much I appreciated how much she has grown up in the last 4 years. Or at least I tried to, between attempts to call her back to the table to finish eating and reminders that this hardwood floor is for the restaurant and is not actually for twirling. Sometimes you just have to look away.