Right now I am sitting at my kitchen table. Hubby just took our girls out for ice cream. That means I have the house to myself! It’s quiet (except for the sound of the happy dance I’m doing right now). I have a candle lit, it’s beautiful outside, and I’m eating chocolate. Granted, it’s chocolate we probably paid way too much for, but my husband has a hard time saying no to a child selling candy or cookies. We usually have about 7 boxes of Girl Scout cookies each year. I think his inability to say no stems from the fact that he was a boy scout for a long time…he’s got a soft spot. What can I say, I’m a sucker for a guy who has a soft spot for kids.
About an hour ago, I was making dinner in the kitchen with my 7-year old daughter, who I fondly refer to as “Emma Bug”. (I can’t call her that in front of her friends, but I can at home). We were making a simple dinner, good ‘ole Mac ’n’ Cheese. As the water was boiling, Bug asked if she could wash the dishes and if I could do it with her. My first instinct was to say no. Who wants to wash dishes by hand when you could shove them in the dishwasher?! Imagine. But as I took a minute to think about it, I realized I had a real opportunity here. First of all, my daughter asked me to spend time doing something with her! As much as I’d love to live in the dream that she’ll always want me around and want to spend time together, I know the day will come when she grows up and has a life outside of her Mama. I want to take advantage of the time we have now…live in every moment.
Second, it’s in the day-to-day moments that the opportunity for communication arises. The unplanned time together sometimes lends itself to great conversations. I want my kids to talk to me, now and when they’re older. If I can’t spare 5 minutes in the kitchen while we’re waiting for the water to boil, why would I take time out of something important to talk with her? I know I would, but she may not know that. Our children see our actions, no matter how loud we’re talking. It’s what they see that’s going to stick in their noggins.
Third, there are so many other things that I have to say no to, why not say yes once in a while? I used to say no because what they were asking for was something that required some effort on my part. Even without the whole communication aspect, how hard is it to let your child do dishes? So there’s some water to clean up afterwards, and probably some towels that will need to be washed, but I bet our kids will remember getting to wash the dishes. And in some cases, it really boosts their self-esteem to know that we trust them enough to wash the dishes. (If you don’t trust them enough, do it with them and show them how to do it properly. Or if you don’t want to do that, wash them again when they go to bed). The joy it brings them is worth the wet towels and semi-clean dishes. And those times when you have to say no to things, they’ll know it’s because it’s important and not because you just don’t feel like doing something.
Back to Bug – while doing dishes, we talked about her day. She was so excited to share with me all of the things she did that day. (She spent time with our friend and babysitter). I just watched her face light up, and her animated expressions and said a prayer of thanks to God for giving her to me.
Go take your kids outside to play in the mud. Then spray ‘em down with the hose! Have fun. Be a kid again. Create those memories that will stick with them and will open the doors of life-long communication between you and your kiddos. It’s worth the mess!
Thanks for stopping by,