Spending quality time with kids and staying present

by Mary Ann on December 28, 2010

kid playing outside pictures


A couple of days before Christmas I found myself watching Jack and Mary, spending time with them. As you know Jack is almost 3 and Mary turned one today, Dec. 27. It wasn’t planned; it just came up that I needed to have them. Having children around is rarely convenient. Let’s just be honest. When they are around, there has to be a slight mind shift from what we need or want to do to what is happening NOW. I am not immune from needing to make this mind shift.

I was writing my article for this blog. I write one every week day and I have to have it to Shiniga, who gets them titled and on line for me and bless her heart for it!, by 4:00 pm. Now I have to say here that my grandchildren are wonderful and I LOVE having them anytime. However, when they came I still had my “me not them” mindset going on. I set them down in front of Qubo (terrible isn’t it) and gave them some cubed cheese. “Ah, they are good to go and I can finish my blog.”

messy kid pictures

Jack eating molasses and clowning around!

Hmmmm that is just not how it works with children. Jack needed a drink, he needed the toy closet opened, he wanted to know this and that……I could feel the worry about my writing deadline rising.

A short time ago I wrote about a wonderful day when I spent time with Jack and Mary learning about and making a rain stick. It had actually gone about like this day, with me trying to stay in my “me not them” mode and finally coming to my senses and being present with them. It was a glorious and fun experience. I was just about to have that experience again.

kids sleep picture

Jack sleeping in the dog bed

Jack came into the office and climbed up on my knee. “Can we look at rain sticks again,” he asked. The real question he was asking was “Can you spend some time with me.” I looked at Jack and again took my own advice. I stopped. What was the worst thing that could happen if I missed the 4:00 deadline? Nothing. Shiniga would email and I would tell her I was running late. She would say Ok and I would get the blog to her when I could. If it was too late and she had other obligations it would just get published the next day. It wouldn’t be the first time it had happened and I was pretty sure it wouldn’t be the last. So I dropped my self imposed deadline and just decided to spend quality time with them for the next hour.

I asked Jack what else he might want to learn about and we decided caterpillars and butterflies. We did a little internet snooping and found two great videos, one of a caterpillar spinning a cocoon and one of a chrysalis breaking open, the butterfly coming out and the wings getting dry and longer. It was fascinating. I didn’t try to “teach” Jack anything, we just watched.

As in the rain stick scenario I kept up a running dialog with Jack though to help him stay present. “Look Jack, that caterpillar is spinning a web like a spider”. “Gosh, that butterflies wings are wrinkled”. “Don’t you love that color”, and on and on”.

He asked if he could make a butterfly. “Sure”, I said. I just happened to have a few great color pages in my Dover file, where I save the downloaded free coloring pages.  We got out the water paints and he painted. Then he wanted to know if he could make a caterpillar. “Sure”, I said and we headed for our trusty junk box (which I use to teach/homeschool at low price), (see item 3) christened the creative craft box, and found an egg carton, a pipe cleaner and a couple of big wiggly eyes.

junk box picture

Junk Box

I thought painting it would be good so out came the poster paints. Jack actually only dabbed at it a few times because what he wanted to do was put on the antenna and eyes! What a great caterpillar he made with the egg carton.

egg carton caterpillar picture

Egg carton caterpillar

When his mom came to get them Jack wanted to tell her all about the caterpillars and show her his. She responded with, “Isn’t grandma school so fun!”

We were having so much fun that I forgot to take a picture and as of today the caterpillar has been played into oblivion. Bummer!

I know that this had a great impact on Jack and that he loved learning about and making caterpillars because our friend Cindy visited his home the next day. She reported to me that Jack was very excited to show her his caterpillar.

It isn’t easy being so honest about the fact that kids can feel like an interruption to me or that I don’t do the best thing right off the bat; that I still have to come to my senses occasionally and decide to be present. However, I tell you this because I think it will give you hope that you to can learn to make choices that will bless your children and ultimately give you many happy experiences with them. You can do this!

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Kimberly December 29, 2010 at 6:47 pm

Another beautiful, honest post Mary Ann. I could relate fully to your process. Jack, Mary and you are truly blessed to have each other!


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