Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Taking Time

I'm so glad to be back home. I can't remember the last time I was away from home for this long. I don't think I've ever travelled in such an erratic manner for so long. I'm home again, but things are such a blur that I can hardly imagine feeling like "things" are back to normal.

Beo and I had a chance to get away for a night while we were staying with my family in South Dakota. I think it's funny that on the rare occasion that we can get away by ourselves we end up talking about the kids. We usually do though. We had roasted vegetable risotto and pesto-cheese ravioli at a romantic Italian place, and discussed our parenting. We decided that what everything comes down to is taking time to just be with the kids.

Modern life hands us so many opportunities to draw on the hours of our day. We cook, clean, organize, read, travel, shop. I constantly flit to the computer to commiserate with like-minded folk, research, educate myself, and escape. It's so easy to be connected on-line (much easier than in real life, in my opinion) that it's a real draw on my time. The kids are generally relatively happy to play, watch a DVD, color, etc. When they have my full attention we're generally working on a project or running errands.

Last week there was a point where Beo and his Dad took Sprout fishing. Bird and I walked to the lake and bug hunted for my sister's entymology project. We had to just wait on the lakeshore for the boys to come pick us up in the boat. With Bird though, it wasn't "just" waiting. First I realized what a great conversation we were having on our walk. Bird could ask questions uninterrupted and I could actually take the time to answer thoughtfully. She chased a butterfly in the park for a good 5 minutes, never doubting she'd catch it. (It would have been a miracle if she'd caught it, and I finally called her off.) On the lakeshore, I pointed out a snail shell, and when she realized there were more scattered along the beach, the hunt was on. She gathered quite a little collection. It struck me as I watched her quietly explore the water's edge that our lives are usually so hurried. Even just hanging out with both kids, I'm usually so busy just keeping track of them and keeping them from getting eachother too riled up. I'm missing the window to see a much clearer view of who they truly are. You get a child alone, with no agenda--just time, and they Pop into 4-D. There's a magical aspect you don't see in everyday life.

What Beo and I decided during our dinner was this: we'll give the kids the gift of time, which is better than anything we could ever buy them. Monday will be family days. We'll have homemade pizza and watch movies while we eat--something Sprout thinks is the coolest thing in the world. One night a week will be Beo's night to spend 15 minutes with the kids doing whatever the kids want. Each month on the date of the kid's birthdays (or the closest possible morning), they'll get to go out to breakfast with one of us--by themselves. (I saw this tradition in a Parenting magazine, and think it's a great idea.) The kids need to know that we realize what a unique spirit they have, and that we honor it. We'll start out slow with these reminders to give them our time, and take it from there. I'll close now--Beo's making pizza and I'm off to take Sprout to the video store to select our viewing pleasure for this evening. Family night!


Beo said...

FYI bring Kleenex to Brother Bear 2. No I am not kidding.

Maddy Avena said...

You said, "The kids need to know that we realize what a unique spirit they have," and I thought that this was an interesting (fill in the blank) slip, where you talk about the necessity of being one-on-one with each child, but then you refer to them as a collective spirit. Hmmmmmmmm
I wish I had had parents like you and Beo. Mine weren't so bad, but it still took me 40+ years to get over their shortcomings in parenting.
Blessings on the continued journey, oh Mama and Papa love warriors!