Friday, October 08, 2010

Pine Cone Races

Last weekend was a series of mini-lessons.

Friday afternoon, I had the kids pack up their sketch books and art supplies, and we headed out for an afternoon of outdoor art. I had remembered this beautiful little spot in Mt. Airy Forest. The Jedi and I used to go to the Arboriteam there on occasion and walk around the pond or sit and watch the ducks. I remembered it fondly, and in my mind, it was a lovely place of green tranquility. I had this idea of sitting and sketching with my kids and giggling at the ducks and geese.

Now, I'll grant the long hot dry summer was not conductive to any landscaping, but even so, all three of us were significantly underwhelmed when we arrived. No ducks. No flowers, no plants other than the collection of evergreens, one lonely willow, and a few tall, dry grasses rustling in the wind. We went down and watch a few fish swim through the billows of pond scum, and had just turned round to head back to the van. On the way back up the path, Sweetling discovered "fluffiness" at the tops of the tall ornamental grass. Both children put down their art bags and water bottles to run their hands along the tufts of soft seeds. We talked a little about air born seeds (which means Mommy talked and hoped some of the words actually registered somewhere in Toa's awareness). Somehow on the way back up to the van, Toa's water bottle went rolling back down the path at least twice.

Sweetling and I were joking about this, when someone, I don't remember who, noted that the many pinecones laying around also would roll down the path. Which, of course, led to pine cone races. So, no art happened, but the three of us knelt along a brick path releasing pinecones and watching them roll.

Lesson number one: Sometimes you just have to drop your plans and have pinecone races.

At sometime during that day, Toa of Boy draped a blanket across the corner formed by the sofa and the armchair, creating a little tent in the corner. Also in that corner is a four-shelf wooden bookcase, so the total floor space in his little lair is maybe three square feet. Maybe. Toa set a book on end to make a door across the six or so inches of space between the bottom front edge of the couch and the bottom front edge of the chair. And voila, one fort for a little boy. From inside this little space comes his little voice. "Mommy," he asks, "can I sleep in my fort tonight?"

I peeked into his fort to see my son curled into a fetal position on the little bit of floor space he had. "No," I said sensibly, "there's not enough room for you to sleep in there?"

"Why not?"

We had this discussion about how sleeping in that little space would be really uncomfortable and would make his neck and his back sore, and so forth. Really, I just didn't want to be up and down all night when Toa found it difficult to sleep in his fort.

When the Jedi got home, he got a chuckle out of Toa's fort. I told him that the boy had wanted to sleep in it, but that I had, sensibly, said no.

"Why not?" asked the Jedi.

"Cause he won't be comfortable."

"Well, if he decides he isn't comfortable, he can take his pillow and go back to his bed."

So, it was decided to let Toa sleep in his fort if he wanted to, to Toa's great delight. When bedtime came around, Toa dragged his pillow and his snuggle friends to the fort. The pillow just barely fit in the floor space of the fort, and therefore became his matress. A throw cushion became his pillow, and he took my penguin blanket to sleep under. He moved the two hamster cages to his room, cause no one can sleep in the same room as the hamsters. And we took pictures, which are still on the camera. And then, we talked about what he should do in the middle of the night if he changed his mind. First, he would have to go to his room and bring the hamsters back into the living room. Then he could take his pillow and his snuggle friends and go back to his bed. And he could do all that all by himself.

We said prayers and tucked him in, as such, and that was that.

The next morning, I woke up, the hamsters were back in the living room, and Toa was sleeping on the couch. Later I learned that he had indeed decided his fort was too small to sleep in comfortably. He woke up sometime in the night, took his pillow back to his bedroom, brought his hamsters back to the living room, and went back  to bed. He woke up again in the early morning, discovered that no one else was awake, and fell back asleep on the couch. And all without waking anyone else up. I told him I was very proud of him for handling all that on his own.

Lesson Number Two: Sometimes you have to say yes to ideas you know won't work.

On Saturday, we decided to head out to a Sunflower Festival. The morning had been pretty overcast with patches of sunshine, and the day even more cloudy after lunch. But, I really wanted to do a family activity, so the Jedi humored me and in the van we got. Raindrops starting hitting the windshield before we had gotten as far as the interstate. So we pulled into the parking lot behind the library to discuss our options.

After a few minutes of tossing ideas around and not reaching anything resembling a consensus, the Jedi announced that he had an idea. We went to a Sci-Fi City, a game store in a local mall, and picked out a new game to play together. On the way back home, we stopped at The Goody Shop for soft serve ice cream. And we spent the evening playing Munchkin Impossible.

Lesson Number Three: The Jedi is a wonderful husband and devoted father. Yes, I know that isn't quite a lesson, but it's the truth. He took my rained out Sunflower Festival and made it into a fun family time all the same.

Later that evening, the Jedi was transfering old movies into a format that our media center computer would play. He called me in to watch one of them. A six year old Sweetling had built a fort out of several blankets and several TV trays. On the video, she was giving a tour of her fort, which she called a "Kidmo Clubhouse," and the attached dog house for her stuffed Clifford. It was so precious. At one point on the video I heard myself say something to the effect of "Ok, do you have anything else to say?" And I panicked, thinking I was about to bring this precious moment to a close for no good reason. I glanced at the video play clock, and it showed five minutes.

Five minutes, and it seemed like I was in danger of rushing this precious little girl off camera so that I could get back to whatever it was I had been doing....something mundane and ordinary and ever so forgetable, no doubt. My heart just sunk as I was watching. I was appalled at myself for rushing my little girl through something she was so proud of and was so meaningful to her. Fortunately, she talked right over my little cue, and the video continued for a little while, until she reached a point where she was ready to conclude.

But, it made me wonder how many times do I miss seeing what is truly important because I'm too busy with things that aren't that significant in the long run?

Lesson Number Four: Kidmo Clubhouses are much more important than my daily to-do lists.

On Sunday morning, there is a group of women that congregate at some small tables in a back 'lobby' area of our church. None of us are involved in a Sunday school class this quarter, so we decided to start our own little group study. The Songwriter keeps calling it "Slacker Sunday School," because we opted for something that was light and would allow us to socialize a little with passerby. I put forward (and sort of pushed through) the notion of a Devotional Journaling group. And since I was the one pushing for Devotional Journaling, I sort of got the task of leading the group by default.

This past Sunday, we discussed Phillipians 4:4-13. We discussed what it meant to present requests "with thanksgiving" and how we can "learn to be content." One of the women shared that she has really been learning to live in the moment, instead of focussing her attention of the next 'event' that is on the horizon. We discussed how to really appreciate and focus on our present blessings, especially the ones we are likely to overlook or take for granted in the business of our lives.

Lesson Number Five: Approach each day with thanksgiving, focus on the moment, enjoy your daily life.


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