Wow what an amazing easter weekend we had! It really was such a special time with family and friends. We started our first night at home with sushi and chocolate ( who says you have to wait for Easter sunday?) and then on Saturday we very spontaneously made our way to Citrusdal to spend two nights with some very good friends. We stayed in one of 6 chalets in the mountains with our own jacuzzi on the front porch and not a sound for miles. We were contemplating leaving Noah behind to have some quality adult time but because it was such a last minute plan, we were “forced” to take him with us. And i cant tell you how happy i am that we did.
I don’t think i have ever seen my son so happy, having the time of his life and i watched him for hours as he played and laughed and had conversations with himself, discovering so many new things. Its a fascinating thing watching your baby grow into a little person, full of will and character ( and a lot of character at that). Having the time and space to be able to sit back and witness this in its fullness left me with such a feeling of satisfaction. Or maybe contentment is a better word.
This got me wondering about how we do things. How we so often get caught in rut of always trying to entertain our children, searching constantly for the next fix of excitement. You see on a normal week at home i would have arranged countless play dates, planned heaps of crafty activities and made sure we had at least one fun outing planned every day, often killing myself to make sure Noah was always happily entertained, always learning and constantly satisfied. I realised two things about how this can be dangerous. Firstly, you are teaching your child to rely on you for all sources of entertainment and they become bored with the simple games they need to play by themselves when you cant be with them. They can then become needy and demanding and im not sure i want to raise a child with a sense of entitlement attached to him wherever he goes.
But then it got me thinking about the other danger that comes with trying to hard to entertain our kids. I mean i get that we are moms and we plan play dates and arty activities to keep our kids busy and out of trouble. We are moms and its what we do. But at what expense? You see what i realised on a whole new level this weekend was how my child really just wanted to be with US. Being present in the moment and giving him my undivided attention was all he really needed. Talking about Gheckos and spiders, swimming in a river, splashing in puddles and helping me scramble the eggs for breakfast were the things he enjoyed most. It was that simple. No complicated activities or tiresome outings to play parks and aquariums. And the best part about it? We ALL got to relax and enjoy the peaceful holiday weekend. OK our friends who invited us away may not agree. It was probably the most chaotic 48 hours of their lives with Noah around, but for my man and i who usually stop at (a little short of) nothing to make our child happy, it was so refreshing just BEING together.
I know its practically impossible to be all ears and eyes with our children 24/7 and there are those times in the day that we have to do anything we can to cope. Be it suicide hour from 5.30-7pm or a deadline you need to attend to at midday. And in those crazy times you will chuck in the closest DVD and hand them a bowl of MSG filled chips just to have and hour to get back on top. I get that. Believe me i do. But have we lost the ability to just be with our children? Have we lost all meaning of the term quality time?
Are we too busy mixing perfect paint and childproofing the furniture to see the pictures our children paint? Are we too lazy to go walking and splashing in puddles after the rain, instead resorting to DVD’s and Ipad’s in the hope that our children will be distracted and not need us so much? Are we too busy trying to do complicated, impressive and over the top things with our kids that we don’t even get to enjoy the moment with them? Have we lost the ability to keep things simple when we play with our children? Without all the paraphernalia that we have slowly filled their bedrooms with? I know my mom would remind me of how we played in the garden from the time we got home from school until the time we were called in for dinner, the only things to our disposal being a hose pipe, a tennis ball and a can for “skop die blik”.
And we wonder why the novelty of “things” is lost so quickly. Maybe we need to realise the true novelty is having us be there and discover those things WITH them and for us to be present (when we are able to be) and show interest in the things that matter to them. Im slowly learning that its better for me to spend an hour of my day being completely focused on my son than an entire day filled to the brim with exciting activities where im too rushed and stressed to answer the questions he asks ALL day now. Listening tentatively to him when he talks, making eye contact and showing interest in his questions and discoveries, thats all he really wants. Those other things should be a cherry on the top if anything.
And on that note….. it just stopped raining. Noah and I have some puddles to explore. Over and out.