I was just reading my last post (about the Story Starters game we've been playing) and noticed I fell into "that thing" again.
At the end there, I mention how doing the story prompts might just buy you a few minutes to get your dishes done ... or your nails filed ... or whatever. And that's true.
But I catch myself sometimes falling into that exasperated parent voice, like, I could tackle the world if it weren't for these pesky little kids who keep wanting me to feed them and wipe their noses.
Don't get me wrong--parenting can be exasperating and I laugh out loud reading witty blogs like Motherhood in NYC and listening to my friends tell hilarious stories about mishaps at the grocery store.
But I tend to have a lot more success with my kids when I'm just plain silly instead of dwelling on the overwhelming moments in our day. Silliness has kind of always been my schtick. I just forget it sometimes. Especially when I'm tired.
I just started reading the book Playful Parenting by Lawrence Cohen, and he's confirming some things I already felt deep down, as well as opening my eyes to how important it is to play with your kids. Seriously important. Like, if you want them to grow up to be kind, healthy, and balanced, get down on the rug and play with them, for Pete's sake.
I remember playfulness coming up when I was a teacher. For the first several months of my first year, I was drowning. I was 22 years old, overwhelmed and shorter than half my students. They were eighth graders, and a lot of them gave a rat's butt about wanting to be at school.
I attended a conference that winter that changed everything. I can't remember who the speaker was, but he basically told us to loosen up and have fun with the students. At the very least, you'll have more energy for yourself at the end of the day.
I started stressing less and letting the silly side of me show. I remember one kid not getting any work done one day, so I put a box of Kleenex on his desk and tucked in his pencil so it could take a nap.
"It must need some rest," I remember saying, sympathetically.
The speaker at that conference also advised us to casually point two fingers while talking to a student who was being particularly difficult. The index finger was for the kid. The middle finger was the teacher's little secret to sanity, he said, holding up his and giving us all the bird.
So back to the Story Starters post ... What I failed to mention is that the first time the girls played it, we did it together. Wholeheartedly. I was a princess, a ballerina, a pig on the farm oinking on the floor alongside them. I'm not sure the girls would have been able to take over the game like they have, if I hadn't modeled it with them.
And thanks to Cohen's book, I've been barking fewer orders at my kids lately. Instead of harping on Bo (our dilly dallier) to get dressed in the morning, for example, I have her stuffed animals place bets on how long it will take her to get ready.
I'm only about a third of the way into Playful Parenting, but I can tell it's going to rank up there as one of the most important books on parenting I've read.
On an entirely different note, check out these handmade party decorations that hung at an event I attended last weekend.
The celebration was in honor of the first anniversary of a group here called The Shrinking Violets Society. It's a group of (mostly) women who meet once a month for breakfast, they host craft nights, have a book club, do community service, etc. The name "shrinking violets" is tongue in cheek, because they're anything but. They care about our city, each other and the earth.
I'm technically a member, but I'm ashamed to say I've never been to an event (besides the birthday bash, but I really just popped in to take photos for a story I wrote about them). Maybe I'd be involved if I didn't have those pesky little kids running around ... just kidding.
Those Violets sure made some cute party decorations, huh?
Look: these tissue paper pompoms are made from old sewing patterns.
You could make some yourself following my tissue paper flower tutorial.
Happy birthday, Violets.