As much as I consider our children complete, wonderful, worthy-of-respect human beings right now, I love to consider who they’ll be as they age. One of the joys of blogging for me, much like my “making memories” approach to photography, is writing down the little thoughts and happenings of our lives, so in 10, 15, 20 years, we can all look back and have memory jogs. When I write about the Buster’s habits now, we’ll be able to laugh about how those are still exactly who he is as an adult. Or, we’ll laugh at how certain habits were just phases and disappeared. (I trust that eventually Monkey won’t want to chew on her dress sleeves, and that Yessa won’t always want to have her potty seat sitting in the dining room.)
Interesting events lately that have made me think about the future children are:
1) We’ve been experimenting with Family Clean Up Time. Before anyone goes to bed each night, we pick up the house. Everyone helps, even if you weren’t actively involved in making a specific mess. It doesn’t take much time, and it makes me feel so much better about our lives. I think it feels better for the children, too. It feels so much less cluttered and out of control to come downstairs to a house that is free of debris.
The children have been wonderful about it. Very little complaining, and willing to let it be fun. Buster and Yessa have been turning themselves into “Speed Cleaning Zachary” and “‘Peed Cweening Noa.” This involves lots of spinning, zooming around, then settling into the task at hand. I am trying to not resort to threats and bribery to get a lagging child to comply. Recent example of a failure, “Zachary, if you don’t get up and help, you can go upstairs to bed all by yourself right now.” The child hasn’t gone to bed all by himself in the nearly 6 years of his life, so that’s a pretty ugly stance to take just to get him to pick up legos. It worked, but not a good return on the investment in our relationship.
Anyway, I digress. Today, Lucia was over for a wonderful afternoon of play. At one point, she and the Buster were watching videos, and Yessa and Monkey decided to turn the downstairs bathroom into a campout. They made many trips up and down the stairs, carrying clothes, pillows, pillowcases filled with pretend and real food, all the pictures off Monkey’s walls that I put up in the last two days…you get the idea. A huge volume of stuff! In addition, they took all the clean towels: those hanging on the towel racks, and those under the sink, and used them to make beds in the shower, and on the floor. If you know me, you know that this nearly sent me into orbit. I have an irrational dislike of the kids pulling the pillowcases off the pillows and using them as hobo sacks. I don’t understand this need to haul huge volumes of stuff all over the house, far away from the room where the items live. But, one of my resolutions is to be more generous with kindness and loving spirit. (Thanks, Friend Mia, for this generosity idea.) Hence, I said nothing to Monkey other than being impressed at the sheer amount of stuff they had managed to stuff into the small space.
At clean up time, I asked her to work on the bathoom. I expected very little. It was a really big task, and she had helped clean up other areas of the house all ready. I really didn’t expect her to clean the whole room on her own. She asked me to fold up the towels for her, and I said I would, but when I entered the room, I felt so pissy about all the crap laying all over the floor–truly it made me so angry–that I beat a hasty retreat and asked Buds to go down and help her. He was having his dinner, and then he and I put the little ones to bed, so he didn’t get down there for probably 30 minutes. He came up the stairs to the bedroom with a surprised look on his face.
“How much did you help her?” he asked me. I hadn’t helped her at all, unless you count not being negative and angry as “helping.”
She cleaned the whole room. Truly, truly cleaned it. She washed the mirror. (With handsoap and the handtowel, but still…)
As Buds points out right now, she enjoyed doing the whole thing. She didn’t feel put upon or pressured into doing it, or I guarantee she wouldn’t have done it. (She is my daughter after all.)
It really was wonderful for all of us. She was so pleased and proud of herself. She wanted to tell us all about the whole process. She wanted us to come down and look at it all together. It really was wonderful.
2) The Buster has loved legos for several years now. And in a huge boon for him, Cousin O has fallen in love with them, too. Buster spent several hours over there this morning, just playing, mostly legos. They make up stories, engage in huge battles, just have a great time.
I noticed, truly notice something about the Buster’s lego play today. I’ve seen him do it before, but I hadn’t really paid attention to the pattern until today.
And these pictures don’t show the habit as well as I’d like, so let me ‘splain. When the Buster is focused on making a lego creation, or creating a lego game, in Legoville, which is what we all call the area of the dining room that has been given over to legos, the takes out the bins and sets them up in a row. Then, depending on what he is creating, he makes a series of creatures for use in the game or plan. He will sometimes set up a lego store, which involves making rows and rows of legos on the table, with like pieces together, sorted by style or color. He can being very methodical and organized in this process of his. The tough part is that we just don’t have the space to leave these amazing displays sitting out for very long. I wish we could have a lego room where he had tables and shelves and could leave the design process in the middle and have it to come back to hours or days later.
The other fascinating thing for me is learning how he thinks about legos. If he is creating a character, he boils it down to the essence of what he wants the character to be. So, if he is making a lego Mario, for example, it might be a tower of 4-2×2 lego squares, with the second lego from the top being yellow, to represent Mario’s hat.
It reminds me a great deal of my Christmas present from my nephew, Little George, when he was about 5. I opened up the small, rectangular-shaped box. It had two clothespins glued together, side by side, and a third clothespin glued to those two, sticking up the opposite direction. I had no idea what it was. No idea. And finally, Little George came over and snuggled on my lap and asked me if I liked the reindeer he had made me. “I had to take off the red nose to make it fit in the box.” He decided on the essence of reindeer for him, and that’s what he gave me. I still have that reindeer, and someday I’ll tell Little George’s soon-to-be-born child about my favorite Christmas present that his Daddy ever gave me.
So, will these vignettes about Buster and Yessa indicate later personalities or habits? Who knows, but it’s fun to think about. And Little George turned out to be pretty wonderful, though I think it’s a long time since he’s made a reindeer.