Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Behind the Curtain

A few friends have commented wistfully on the idyllic children dancing across the pages of this blog. It's true, I've lately been highlighting the happy, playful, sisterly moments of our day more than any others.

More than the embattled food fights that characterize our meals.

More than the frequent time outs that now punctuate Elliot's playtime.

More than the mood swings of a four-year-old that whisper with a foreboding tone of the fun we might have a decade from now.

More than these other daily features, the happy, playful, sisterly moments are the ones I review at the end of the day. They are the bits I hope to re-screen at some future date with grown up girls who can comically roll their eyes at their little selves and their youthful mom.

Behind the predominance of these Pollyanna kid moments, I am fully engaged in the inner work of parenting. It is tough business teaching manners and politeness and tempering aggression without constantly interrupting the playful games of childhood. Us parents must stay on top of every issue, stay present, and maintain the rhythms of the day at all times.

Paying attention to their cues, I move the girls through their days: from quiet play (coloring, play dough, blocks), to movement (dance party or hide and seek), to free play (explorer games), to lunch, to the real world adventures (swimming pools or play dates or sledding expeditions).

It's impossible, of course, to preempt every tantrum simply by staying attuned to the need of the moment. Sometimes we all need to stomp our feet a few times. But it helps. I've been a more tuned in parent lately, and I have been able to enjoy more happy kid moments as a result (whether because I'm paying more attention or there really have been more I can't say).

By the end of the day, all four of us are covered in markers and stickers, juice stains and crushed cheerios, play dough knee patches, tattered dance party ribbons, and dust bunnies from finding the best new hiding place. And we are all exhausted. At some point in every day, I have missed a beat and our rhythm falters thanks to my newly inherited iTouch or the wash machine malfunctioning or a (much-needed) phone call, and someone ends up in time out or something ends up broken. Each time I vow to try a little harder to stay present and involved and working with their natural cues... and so it goes behind the curtain.


Bonnie said...

you are doing a great job! Love MOM

Anna said...

Reading this I am in awe of what a loving, attuned parent you are. These days are so fleeting, and you all are making the most of it!!


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