Aaron and I recently returned from his annual family reunion at Lake Catherine State park. 5 days of fun in the sun, we all had a lot of fun and also some much needed relaxation:
First on our vacation to do list was to take the kids on a short hike to see "the falls," a small waterfall Aaron and his family have been enjoying for years. Only minutes after setting out we learned that no hike is short enough for a couple of hot thirsty 2 year olds. After 45 hot cranky frustrating minutes we decided that for the rest of our time at the lake we would do our best to let Lola and Jackson lead our adventures rather than being dragged along on them.
This doesn't mean we didn't get to do a bunch of what we wanted. Aaron's family was fabulous about watching the kids during naptime and after their bedtime so we were able to play poker, go on boat rides, jump off a bridge into the lake, and spend a lot of time hanging out with Aaron's cousins. But while the kids were awake and up for fun, we did our best to let them lead the way. If they wanted to throw pine cones into the lake, then that's exactly what we did. We played on swings, piled rocks on top of small boulders, ran down hills, and played with (poked and yelled at) turtles.
I came back from the trip with a renewed belief in letting the children lead some of our leisure time. I wanted to remember that provided with opportunities for creativity and play, many times the best thing I can do is participate in THEIR activity and not the other way around.
But as with many renewed beliefs and senses of purpose, this one faded from the front of my mind as we jumped back in to our regular routine. The piles of post vacation laundry and the endless parade of dirty dishes took precedence over water balloons and crayons. Despite my best intentions I found myself telling the kids things like "you guys sit and color, I'll be over to play in a while." Thankfully yesterday Jackson interrupted my frenzied cleaning and offered a perfect moment of clarity. Crayon in hand he asked, "Mommy draw big bird?" "In a minute, Jack, I'm trying to sweep" I mumbled, not even really caring if he heard me. "Mommy draw big bird?" he asked again, pushing the crayon into my hand. "I don't know how" I said, hoping that would satisfy him and he would go back to drawing on his own. But his wonderful simple toddler mind solved that problem immediately. "Like this mommy," he said, and noticing I was holding the crayon upside down he took it from me, turned it over and handed it back the correct way. Problem solved, let's get to coloring.
Thanks Jackson, for reminding me to put my agenda aside and take the time to follow your lead.