A timely reminder.
A few weeks ago, my nephew stayed with us. He was here for almost a week, and we had a blast. He is only four months younger than Cooper, and having the two of them so close in age made it super easy to find a whole range of activities to keep them occupied while Zachary was in school. Every day he was here we did something fun and exciting and three year old friendly.
We went to the park. Then we went to the better park that's all the way across town and that we never bother to go to because it's almost a half an hour drive. We played at the mall play area, even though I usually tell Cooper we're "too busy" to go there, when the truth is I just really really really hate the mall. We played with the garden hose and got dirty and muddy. We broke out the tiny blocks that the boys love but that I usually keep put away because they are, well, tiny, and therefore quite likely to get dropped and stepped on by me at 5:30 in the morning when I can't really see straight. We did craft projects. We even opened the "good" Play-Doh... You know, the cans where the colors aren't all mixed together yet. We ate kid friendly foods for almost every meal, we ate snacks at random times that we don't normally eat snacks, and every trip outside warranted a popsicle... In short, it was good times all around.
But somewhere in the middle of the week, as I was trying to make sure my nephew was having a great time and not missing his mom and dad too much, I realized something. I don't do this "special" stuff for my kids. Not nearly enough, anyway.
I think we've (and by "we" I of course mean "me") gotten so bogged down into the day to day routines of just living that I've forgotten, once again, how important it is to be flexible and fun for my boys, and for me.
This was a great wake-up call. Today is the first official day of summer break, and I needed to remember that it's not all just about getting your chores done, saying "ma'am" and "sir," "please" and "thank you" and doing what you are told THE FIRST TIME. Kids are supposed to have fun and be spontaneous too. It's what makes childhood so free.
I know it's a balancing act. I have no interest or intention of being the kind of parent who is so flexible that schedules aren't followed, homework isn't completed, and chores aren't done.
But... it was a nice reminder that I don't have to automatically say no every time one of my kids requests a snack at an odd (to me) time.
Why, I wonder, is it always so much easier to say yes to other people's kids?
And why, I wonder, do I have to keep learning this lesson of being flexible over and over?
Well, I'm sure I don't know the answers, but I can't think about it too much right now. I have two boys and some BRAND NEW tubs of Play-Doh waiting for me in the living room, so I have to run.