I was sitting in the parents’ lounge this weekend watching my sweet Lucy girl whirl and twirl her little heart out in her Creative Dance class. She’s the youngest in the class by a few months but she holds her own… usually. Sometimes I have to peek my head in and remind her that it’s not time to make faces in the mirror but it is time to listen to the teacher.
She makes blaring declarations like, “I have a baby sister at my house!” which gets all the parental focus turned towards me. Um, no, everyone. She’s talking about Bear Bear, whom she decided is now her baby sister and treats her as such. I am not hiding a baby at my house. Or when she made up an elaborate story about the spring break vacation we took the beach [a girl can dream].
We are definitely in the edge-of-our-seats-waiting-to-see phase, earnestly wondering what that sweet little mouth will declare next. Her imagination is expansive, to say the least. Each day brings new scenes created in her room. New menus created for her play kitchen. New fort houses and tea parties. I had to laugh a few weeks ago when I went in her room and first thought she’d made this huge mess with a pile of clothes on the floor. But when I asked her about it she explained that it wasn’t a mess, it was Rapunzel. And it was true. Right down to a scarf used for hair she’d created a sculpture on the floor of one of her favorite princesses.
She creates new personae each day and really sticks to them. Like, “Mama, today I am Lucy Ms. Mimi Teacher [from Angelina Ballerina] and I need you to come to dance class.” Ms. Kris, who comes each month with the Parents as Teachers program, tried to ease me into this a few months ago by saying, “I just want to prepare you. Children who tend to have a flair for the dramatic often have extremely imaginative play.” No kidding. Woah.
So we live in this world. And I try to balance going to her Ms. Mimi dance classes and tea parties with taking care of my other household duties. There is a direct correlation between her need for attention and my lack of availability. It’s also not totally how my mind works. I’m a muser. A thinker. A ponderer. I like to have conversations in my head, with myself – but realistic ones. Conversations that process [over process?] things that happen. I was the kid that liked to do worksheets. I enjoyed extra homework and long sports practices.
I’m adjusting. Steadily. I love the way her brain works. I love the amount of her day spent drifting between worlds. But it doesn’t leave us a lot of time to hit the books. She’s not going to be the first of her friends to write her name. In fact, in dance class last week she was the only kid that couldn’t visually recognize her numbers when they played hopscotch. She’s not interested in sitting down to learn them. And that’s such an adjustment for this milestone-loving, checklist-preparing mama. No kid… I want you to be, like, the smartest person ever. I get swallowed up in what I want for her.
But God has gifted me with this strong-willed child who’s not interested in my checklists. She’s a free-spirit and it’s becoming a little more than contagious. So she doesn’t recognize her numbers. Last week when we were baking together she counted up to twenty. So she doesn’t want to learn her alphabet. Not too long ago we were driving in the car and she gave me the best little rendition of Jingle Bells [a few months late :)]. In thinking of all the lessons she’s missing, she’s taught me a great one: Let go. Calm down.
I need to parent the child she is, not the child I want her to be. There will be time for all of that other stuff later. For now, let’s go make some mud pies in our new outdoor kitchen and surprise ourselves with how quickly the afternoon can slip away. Is that a segue? Why, yes it is, my friends.
I took the kids out in the rain [who’s crazy now] to the thrift store’s half off sale with a very specific shopping list in my mind: real kitchen utensils for L+L’s outdoor kitchen. I spent $13 and, if I have to say so myself, it is fabulous.
I used galvanized nails to hang the utensils to the inside of the playhouse under our slide. A ten minute project yielding hours of fun.