When did our world (and by “our” I mean “my”), get all hung up on little things and stressed out?
Some time ago, my daughter was doing her homework at the kitchen table while I made dinner. My son wanted to join the homework fun, too. I offered him colouring books, writing activities, puzzles, etc., none of which caught his attention. Then I pulled out a game/puzzle exercise a friend had given me for my son. It had belonged to her son when he was younger and had been sent to him from his relatives in Germany.
I laid it out on the kitchen table and read the instructions. There were, of course, English instructions, but some of it was literal translation and a bit of German crept in. So, to make things fun, I used a German accent when I read the instructions out loud.
Both my kids dissolved into a laughing mess.
It wasn’t the accent so much as it was how I pronounced the German words that made me laugh. After repeating the instructions several times in my very unauthentic German accent, thinking that was what was making my kids laugh so hard, my daughter said, “Read it again, Mommy. I love how it makes you laugh!”
I nearly cried. That was what she was getting a kick out of. Not the funny accent or the funny words, but my laughter.
She was laughing because I was laughing.
Days later, it happened again.
I was doing her homework with her. Then we transitioned to reading a book. And the whole time, I was relaxed and focused on her. I read in a funny accent. I asked her questions about the story. I helped her sound out words by making up games about the letters. All just normal, helpful parent-focused-on-the-child kinds of things. Things that previous generations of parents probably didn’t even think about. They just did it.
But nowadays, to have time to be that relaxed, we have to schedule schedule schedule. Then we have to schedule some more. Then we have to turn our minds (and devices!) off from all the other stuff that threatens to take up the space and our attention so that our little people end up being pushed right out of our minds and out of our way-too-busy lives.
That’s not fair to them. If all it takes to light up my little girl’s eyes is a bit of focused attention from me, then that’s what she’ll get.
Days later, she is still talking about how much fun we had doing her homework and reading books. Turning off the outside world is a good thing.