Archives for April 2014

Play With Me!

My dear children, yours is a life of wonder, joy, and play.  OK, there is maybe a meltdown or tantrum every now and again, but you two  definitely have your proportions right.  A common refrain from you two is “Play with me!” and it is such a joy to hear.  The bulk of your life at this point is still organized around play, and we, as your parents, are blessed with the opportunity and responsibility of ensuring that you stay connected to play as a source of learning, development, and growth.

And for your part, my beloveds, you help keep me connected to the real purpose of all of the “other” stuff that big people spend so much time doing.  This past weekend,  Anna, you asked me what I was doing when I was working on taxes.  You said “I want to do taxes!”  Never mind the sheer naiveté of your request – you still have the ability to approach everything in your life as an adventure, as something new to be explored, or as another avenue of play to be shared with someone else.  Oh, but for the simplicity of that point of view.

And you, dear Lucas, you asked me to push you on the swing when I still had other chores to do.  One was fixing a wheelbarrow for Mom, who is planting a strawberry garden with the two of you.  The other was mowing the lawn.  The two tasks combined took me maybe an hour, and every 15 minute or so you came back with “Umi, can you push me on the swing now?”  You were not whining, but just persistent.  Not only did you have something you wanted to do, but you also wanted to do it with me.

It brought me back to when I was younger and the activity of play was only half as important as who I got to play with. I recall the feeling of comfort and welcome that came from that person saying “yes.”  Playing together was about so much more than play – it was also about acceptance, connection, and even self confidence.  I would never vocalize any of that, but it’s true.  When we get older and begin dating, the rules and activities change a bit, but it’s still basically the same thing.

Eventually, I finished up and asked you if you still wanted to swing.  Both of you then ran to the swings in our yard and just vibrated with anticipation in your seats.  As I began pushing you, gently at first and then a bit harder, I honestly think I was the one having the most fun.  I put my hands on your backs as you came racing towards me, then pushed you away towards the sky.  With the rhythm of a pendulum you returned to my embrace, but in that moment I knew that it would not always be that way.

There will come a time when you are ready to launch into your own life, I know, but that day is not yet upon us.  For now, you are my precious little children, swinging together in our backyard in an afternoon of play.  I could literally feel the memories forming in my head as I watched you.  I knew in the moment that THIS is important; THIS is what matters in our relationship together; THIS is the reason for doing all the big-people things that give us the luxury of the life we live.  These are the moments we share together in joy, love, and play.

So when you ask that I play with you, or push you on the swing, or whatever else your mind is set upon for the moment, my loves, know that my heart always says yes, even when the circumstances of big-people things has me say no, or perhaps “not yet.”  And for my part, I shall endeavor to live my life and my work in a way that has me most often able to say yes to you, and yes to love.

No Fractions

You two will both be 5 years old at the end of June, making you 4 and 3/4 years old already. You are my precious little children, and as young and tender as you are, it baffles me to realize that you are 25% of the way to 18 and potentially leaving the nest. It’s cliche to say “they grow up so fast,” but putting time into perspective only proves that it’s true. I contrast that against my own upper forties, reluctantly seeing that I may be past my half-way mark on this earth. While we never know if we will even see the sun tomorrow, it hardly helps fear what tomorrow will bring.

I recall a story of a young man passing an older man planting an apricot tree. The younger asks the older why he, an old man, is planting a tree whose fruit he may never live to see. The older replies that he lives as though he will never die. The younger says that he lives as though he will die tomorrow, and wonders which of them are right. (Zorba the Greek?)

I also recall the words of one of my teachers, who said “It’s not what you do that matters… it’s what you do next.”

And whatever that may be, my loves, do it with full force, joy, love and commitment… no fractions.

Leverage

This evening, I had a meeting to go to at 7:00 PM, which meant I needed to leave before you two went to bed.  Normally, we are just finishing dinner around that time, so I had dinner ready when Mom picked you up from daycare so that we could share a meal together.  But when I got up to leave, you were both upset that I would not be tucking you into bed.

But you, my dear Anna, you got resourceful in your attempts to keep me from leaving.  You decided against a complete melt-down (Mom and I both thank you), and you already knew that clinging to my leg would not work (though it does tug at my heart).   But you saw that I was going to bring a notebook with me, and you grabbed it off the table, clutching it to your body for dear life.  You said “I’m going to keep your notebook so that you can’t leave.”

It didn’t work, of course, but your actions were quite deliberate and thought-out for a dear little girl.  You’re not even 5 years old yet, and already you are consciously looking for leverage points.  I gave you a hug, a gentle tickle to wrest it from your hands, and then another hug for both you and Lucas before I left.

My dearest children, you are both precocious to me beyond measure.