I go school, he tells me.
I nod my head and we get back to our routine-less life.
I am not ready to send him out in a world that needs him to grow faster than he should, to burden him with competition and worry, to fit into pegs – circular or square.
I want him to be carefree, to make mistakes, to be free from judgement for as long as he can. I want him to wonder, to breathe, to run pointlessly, to walk aimlessly for as long as he can and if possible, with me.
For I now know that they grow up too soon. That before I know it, our lives will get busy and soon enough our schedules and our deadlines will take up so much, we may not get this opportunity again.
So I have slowed down. Choosing to grow with him, learning to breathe and enjoy each other’s company. For a few hours every day, we pause and we do stuff, TOGETHER. Sometimes they are on the spur of the moment and sometimes we meticulously prepare. Some are are uber fun, and when others turn out to be massive flops (like yesterday when we were low on vinegar and our volcano didn’t really erupt), we fall back onto tried and tested backups like music and robot dance.
Sharing them for moments when you feel like doing something and can’t seem to make up your mind. Hope you enjoy doing these with your kids as much as I do.
Hops and Walks: On random mornings, when nothing specific calls out, he and I head out. We are lucky to live in a large complex. We sit at the fish pond (apparently it has snakes too) and wait and watch till our patience runs out and something else calls out. We see flowers and shout out their colours – purple, blue, yellow and pink. We even catch a bee now and then. Sometimes he leads the way, at times I choose the direction. He jumps and I follow suits or I run and he catches me.
Baking: Simple recipes. Cookies, cupcakes or brownies. He can help chop some chocolate bars and weigh and measure it on a scale. He can even cut up stars and shapes of his liking. But the hand beater is his personal favourite, watching the bowl rotate as the whisk turns. Now & then I am allowed to hold the bowl, most times I am asked to step back. I ask him to drop in spoons of flour into the bowl and he tries his best to not let anything spill. Sorry comes quickly to him even when he does. (PS: The usual me has to take a deep breath, because mess doesn’t come easy to me. Also, I used to be fairly paranoid, but now the little one is allowed to use a knife and scissors under my careful supervision.)
Gardening: I never connected with plants for 36 years of my life. We never got dirty, my older one and I and it will be my biggest regret. (Especially as I read through ‘Last Child in the Woods’) So now I lead my two year old into the nursery we are lucky to have access to and let him take on a task every now and them. Some days we are lucky to see a ladybug or an earthworm; we have even seen a snail. And when that’s not an option we tend to our two and half plants in the home balcony.
Art and craft: I am not an artist but I love solving problems and making things happen. So when my son says he wants to become Tin Man or dress up as Groot, or create a bird feeder. We tear apart cardboard, we rip up cellotape, fight about who will cut strips and manage to get everyone pulled into the task. Sometimes we love it, sometimes we get upset. I am reminded of my older one who got mad as a toddler because the colours would blend into each other. We have painted some walls, a few tiny canvas and tons of papers.
Building & Making: One of my best investments is a lego table with storage which I decided to fill with magic Sand. Between lego and Magic Sand, I have kids of every age glued to that table. ‘Let’s play sand’ I hear him say and depending on availability, an adult – father, mother or nanny – is pulled to it.
But for Lego it’s his brother he wants because then he gets anything he likes, guns and robots, houses with or without a garden, big and small depending on who he wants to place in it, baby spiderman or ‘biig’ spidey. You can buy it here. We love Christmas especially because then we have another reason to get to doing stuff together.
Playing Ball: Get one in every size possible. When nothing seems to work, turn to one of them and they as loyal friends will see you through. Take one along with you, and kids of all sizes & age groups will find you and before you know it your kid should have friends (unless they are like mine and run away with it screaming, ‘my ball, my ball’).
My kid has discovered that he can makes us stand like hoops, so now we have progressed from catch, cricket and football to basketball.
(I would recommend a softer ball for basketball as some shots can really hurt.)
But truly, I never imagined running and racing to the ball with my toddler could be so much fun.
Stories, Rhymes & pretend play: Stories include the ones you make up and those that you read. Pretend to be attacked by dragons and hide under the blanket and shush each other. Or charge an attack right back. Get your dramatic voices out and let your bodies talk.
And you’ll see them make awesome connections like when you see the lady bug in the garden and they say ‘Mama, it’s the Bad Tempered Lady Bird’ or see a spider, and instead of freaking out, start singing ‘Incy Wincy Spider‘. I even recommend sitting on the merry go round in the play area singing wheels on the bus go round and round till you are hoarse.
Other fun things you could add to the list include cutting paper, mixing and sorting pulses or blocks of different shapes & colours playing tickle monster, pouring water from one bucket to the other (add a few bath toys), racing (make up your own new ways) and making houses with foam mats.
Don’t forget to end every day with dance nights.
Show them some crazy moves.
Lose yourself to the fun and the moment.