Friday, November 6, 2009
Do you have a special way that you connect with each of your children?
Yes, it changes over the years with each.
But right now, Oldest Daughter and I love to watch the occasional reality show . . . Project Runway, John and Kate (before it became emotionally traumatic), Say Yes to the Dress. We sit smooshed together, one arm wrapped around the other's one arm, giving insightful commentary, stunning analysis, and witty criticisms along the way. They're our dates. No other kids allowed.
Oldest Son likes to talk. And it usually happens when I pop in to say good night . . . when it's dark . . . and it's already 11:30 . . . and he needs to be asleep. Come to think of it, maybe it's just an evil ploy! Oldest Son talks and talks and we solve world crises and analyze the newest song he downloaded and laugh at random lines from Jim Gaffigan comedy.
For Middle Son, it's all about physical touch. Hugs and tickles and hugs that you think are going to be hugs and turn out to be tickles. And heads on shoulders and scratching of the back and rubbing of the feet. And, did I mention, hugs and tickles?
Youngest Son loves to play games. And so he coerces me into a quick game of King's Corner before bed. Or he corrals me into The Farm Game when he really should be practicing his handwriting. Or he destroys me in Memory (which really isn't fair because his mind has one thing going on in it and mine is playing Memory, thinking through what's for dinner, planning my to do list for the morning, and preparing for a phone call later).
And then there's Youngest Daughter. And her current way of connecting is "Playing Babies."
It's not that I don't like the idea of "playing babies." It seems a great way to connect with a six year-old. It's just that I've "played babies" for a long time. Seventeen years, to be exact. And sometimes I just don't want to "play babies."
But then, just as I'm finally tackling the mound of dishes teetering in the kitchen, a soft hand touches my leg and a quiet voice says, "Mama, will you play babies with me?" And what's a mom to do? Say "no" to this request that won't probably be posed in another 6 months? So, we "play babies."
The hard thing about "playing babies" with Youngest Daughter is that we must slow down . . . slow way, way down. We must sit on the floor, we must arrange all the babies, we must lay out all the clothes. And my mind, which could keep whirring while I watch reality shows and discuss life and give hugs and play games with the others, must slow down to a crawl and engage with the mind of a six year-old "mommy." Because we must discuss what the babies will eat, which ones need to go to the bathroom and which ones need diapers changed, what games they will play, and when they should nap. And Youngest Daughter knows . . . yes, she knows when my mind starts wandering and I'm mentally sending an e-mail to the Chairman of the Sports Activity Committee instead of cutting up the plastic corn and making sure the baby is eating as she is supposed to. And she corrects me . . . and keeps me focused on the task at hand . . . "playing babies."
And I'm reminded that no matter which child I'm interacting with, this time is fleeting. It's such a gift. And I need to be "all there" whether I'm tickling or passing "go," cheering designers or discussing basketball moves . . . or playing babies.