Monday, July 14, 2014

Toddler Days

The week and a half that K3 spent at this little place here brought back memories--good and bad (like how few diapers DH ever changed when our four kids wore them; he didn't change a single one of K3's, GRRRR!!).  The days were packed full, yet I got very little from my regular chores list accomplished each day.

Mostly it was care of K3; the dressing, the brushing of teeth and hair, keeping her entertained and out of harm's way, bath time and reading time and song time and bed time interspersed with breakfast, lunch, dinner, laundry, packing DH's lunch on work days, and making sure dishes got done every night.  Every day a full day, six a.m. til about eleven p.m. Every day a tiring day.  But each and every day started with a big smile from my favorite two year old (she is one of those children who wakes up happy every single morning).  And each and every day wrapped up with snuggles and stories and songs before she went to sleep and I tackled the dishes and swept the floors before I went to sleep.  Just like old times, when my kids were young.

We didn't go on any fancy outings while she was here.  Just to the grocery store twice, if you can even call that fancy.  Well, DH, DS2, and both DD1 & DD2 did take her canoeing, but I stayed home and tried to catch up on weeding the garden while she was enjoying the boat ride with Grandpa, who normally does not carry passengers in his canoe.

What we did do was feed and water the poultry every morning, letting them out of their pens and coops.  We shut them in again each night.  Several times in between the letting out and shutting in, K3 liked to just sit in her little lawn chair and observe the birds in their chicken-ness, duck-ness, goose-ness and turkey-ness hunting for bugs and eating clovers as well as grass seeds and various weeds. I have to admit, I like to just sit and watch them too.

We also played ball a lot.  She loves to run, as most toddlers do.  Let me say here, to parents who may just be in possession of a toddler of their own:  being a toddler is not a passive activity.  Toddlers need to be burning off energy constantly.  To expect them to sit, contained and quiet for more than fifteen minutes at a time is being unrealistic.  It also leads to lots of tantrums. (One of the first questions her mama asked, over the phone on day two of K3's visit, was "How many tantrums has she had?"  I replied truthfully "None."  Ain't nobody got time for that.  We'd been too busy running and playing).  Let them run, and run with them.

me and K3 playing soccer,
'shirts vs skins' style

When we weren't running or playing ball together, K3 would play ball by herself, whacking it across the yard with a hefty plastic yard stick and then running to catch up.

One of K3's most favorite things to do, when we weren't kicking a ball around the yard, or whacking it with the yard stick, was to run from one end of the deck or front porch to the other, while saying "Grandma, go, RUN!"  I bet we ran a couple miles during her visit, thirty feet at a time.  We also had fun 'off roading' with the stroller, where I would run as fast as I could, pushing it through the yard over bumps and down hills, or through the paths in the garden, while she leaned forward, laughing and squealing with every bounce or turn.

Climbing was another favorite activity, which I let her engage in within safe limits. I believe climbing is a good skill, it develops not just strength, but also large motor skills, and problem solving abilities (Hmm, how do I get from down here to up there? Now that I'm up here, how do I get down?).

Playing in the water was good for giving me a chance to cook dinner several nights running. A dishpan full of water, a cup, and our enclosed back deck (no way down from the deck except through the house), and K3 was entertained while I tended a hot stove.

She had a few 'farm only' adventures, like seeing two raccoons up close and personal, after they were caught in the live trap set in the barn. (We'd been having a coon/chicken problem again. . .)

contemplating a raccoon

And every day of course included some time spent with books (we made a trip to the library too).  Most of the time I read to her, but sometimes she wanted to read on her own.

She sure kept me busy while she was here to visit.  I admit, some days I felt like I was getting absolutely nothing accomplished (and that brought back lots of memories!).  Especially as the weeds in the garden grew and grew, or I needed to get dinner cooking and she was being clingy.  But I wouldn't trade time with that girl for anything in the world.

I have a card, one of those inspirational ones that were so popular in the mid-nineties (which, coincidentally is when I bought it), that summed up my philosophy so neatly that I framed it and have kept it in my bedroom for going on twenty years.  It is has a picture of a small girl, probably no more than four years old, in a dress and straw hat, standing on a hill in the sunset.  Below the picture is a quote, which I believe is attributed to Forest E. Witcraft, although on the card no author is given.  The quote says:

"A hundred years from now it will not matter what my bank account was, the sort of house I lived in, or the kind of car I drove. . . But the world may be different because I was important in the life of a child."

In every one of the above pictures, I see those words in action.  The world isn't going to be much affected by how tall the weeds in my garden got.  Or if dinner wasn't served at exactly the time I wanted it to be, a night or two.  But for K3, everything I did those ten days or so of her visit, was important; for those days I was defining her world.

Moms and Dads (and even Grandmas and Grandpas), think on those words when you are feeling frazzled and unsure if you are spending your time most effectively or not.  Toddler days don't last forever, but the things you do during them, the attitudes you have, will.

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