“Mummy, watch me!” she says. I barely look up before telling her no, not now, I’m busy. One minute later, she’s back. “Read Peppa Pig, Mummy?” she asks. Ella, not now, I say. I’m busy, okay? I look up and watch her lips tighten across her face, like a drawstring someone is pulling the sides of. Okay, she says, and slips away.
The truth is, I wasn’t busy. I was bored. And saying no meant that I was saving myself from the impossibly tedious task of finding out where exactly on God’s green earth the green sheep could possibly be. Here’s a tip, sister. He’s asleep. He’s ASLEEP. Beside a bush. Just like he always is. He is ALWAYS ASLEEP BESIDE A BUSH.
Playing with my kids doesn’t come naturally to me. Well, it does for the first four minutes until the Rule of Thirds sets in. Anything repeated more than three times is an indicator for my insides to curl in upon themselves and start dry-retching into a corner. Repetitious play is painful. It’s worse than sitting through English comedy.
And yet, there is something that doesn’t feel nice about turning her away so often, so dismissively. She goes to bed at night and as I re-live the day, I feel uncomfortable about the way I’ve remained in my world and dismissed hers. Because what I really think is that she doesn’t care. She doesn’t care where the green sheep is. She knows. She knows where he is. She doesn’t care what she builds with her lego or what she’s going to paint. She doesn’t care if she has a stick or a hundred-dollar flashing, talking, singing, dancing, cart-wheeling fairy dishing out free ice cream (okay, she’d probably care about that). The point is, what she cares about is me. What she wants is me. To engage in her world. To validate her. To get down at her level and say Honey, I’m here. I see you. Let us be together.
It’s unrealistic to engage in child’s play every second of every day. Lord knows, when you’re playing hide-and-seek with a two-year old who is sitting opposite you but covering her head with a towel, the ‘seek’ bit of the game becomes somewhat dull. But this week, I’ve been experimenting with Just Five Minutes. Just Five Minutes of genuine, focused, enthusiastic, and fully engaged play. And, ironically, those five minutes have led to ten and then twenty minutes. Because by making the commitment to play, for once I am in my daughter’s world. And when I’m there, I see her so differently.
It’s up to me to make space in my mind and my day to fully engage in play with my children. It is the language they speak. The currency they stockpile in their I Am Loved bank accounts. But more than that, it is a chance to see them for who they are – not who or what or how you would like them to be – and that, that, is the gift.
Some happy moments of play this week, in between finding the goddamn Green Sheep and burying the bloody thing under the washing pile. Because, you know, there was that, too.
Painting gone wild.
Makin’ cubby houses. When in doubt, always make cubby houses.
Home-made iceblocks from juiced pineapples.
Playground sessions – the surest cure for witching hour this side of Disneyland.
And another trick I learned this week? Add one new play activity to your week. Like bath fishing. Keeps an adult’s creative mind pulsing.
One stick, one coat hanger and a handful of pipe cleaners is all you need. You’ll be a hit for days.
And in honour of all things happy, some more shiny moments from our week.
Spending time with Oma.
Possibly her newest favourite pastime.
Beach sunsets with friends.
Where we snuck in a little photography session of my friend and her beautiful family. “Baby Stella” and “Daddy Dean” a.k.a “Daddy Beans” were added to Ella’s list of Favourite Things.
More coming soon Mummy Thea! xo
Also, I’m loving this snippet from Elizabeth Gilbert during Oprah’s The Life You Want Weekend.
“I’m going to say something really weird and it’s going to surprise you,” she begins. “I’m going to speak out for a second against passion.”
Gilbert takes a breath and continues. “You spend a lot of your life having people tell you to follow your passion. It’s nice advice, it’s heart-warming advice, it’s great advice — if you happen to have one that is very clear and obvious,” she says.
But what happens if you don’t have an easily identifiable passion? Hearing the advice to follow it often leaves you with more frustration than you started with.
“Sometimes it feels cruel and all it does is make you feel even worse and more left out, because you’re like, ‘I would if I knew what it was!'” Gilbert says. “If you’re in that position right now… forget about passion.”
Instead, she suggests following something much more attainable. “Follow yourcuriosity,” Gilbert says. “Passion is rare; passion is a one-night-stand. Passion is hot, it burns. Every day, you can’t access that.”
Even though she describes herself as a passionate person, Gilbert insists she doesn’t feel passionate every, single day. What she does feel, though, is curiosity.
“Follow it,” she says. “It might lead you to your passion or it might not. You might get nothing out of it at all except a beautiful, long life where all you did was follow your gorgeous curiosity. And that should be enough too.”
You can watch the video here.
A quick Friday Photo Dump to end. (theredtent on Instagram if you want to follow the feed)
Happy Friday Sisters! Cart-wheelin’ into the weekend…here we come. See you back here soon!