10-year-old Russell wistfully memories of sitting on the curb counting blue cars with his Dad is one of the hardest scenes of the movie Up. His father is no longer a part of his life and the simple way he tells Carl how much he loved counting cars with his Dad cuts to your heart. You remember how you desperately longed for your parent's attention and love as a child. You You see how much this little guy needs his Dad. The Dad who left him behind.
It's heartbreaking really.
I think of that movie a lot because it's difficult for me to sit and count the blue cars. It's just so boring. I really like hanging with teenagers and chatting with older kids but I find the put the blue square in the yellow box game incredibly tedious. Elian wants me to sit on the floor and watch him play all the time and I hate it. We've had many a war over my refusal to sit with him hour upon end.
I would love to sit and read a book with him or even color, but no... he wants to open the box. Close the box. Open the box. Close the box. Open the box. Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz....
I try to comply. Really I do. I think of the little boy who just wants to count cars with his Dad and I will myself to sit down on the floor. I tell myself it's fun! And occasionally it is, but mostly it's boring and I just sit there wishing I was washing the dishes and feeling guilty that I'm letting this time slip by. I know there will be moments not long from now when I'll long for him to settle into my lap and proudly show me how he opened the box.
It's like flossing. I know I should do it more regularly but I just don't want to. I dread playtime and there's nothing like a magic mix of boredom, frustration, laziness and guilt.
Last week though, I had an "epiphany". Perhaps as the adult in this relationship I could introduce activities that could be fun for both of us. Perhaps my toddler does not control the world?
Say it with me now. Duh.
So now we are going to swimming lessons. I've got a split lip from a flailing head-butt to show for it but its way worth the price for quality time. And I've introduced many a game I find "fun" like "Let's sort the laundry", "Clean the closet" and "Fold the sheets". Parenting 101 I know, but I never said I was good at this stuff, only that I'd do my best.
Maybe we're not counting blue cars but nothing beats his enthusiasm while scurrying between the laundry basket and his bed, skipping as he hand-carries each of his teeny-tiny shirts to his room. I love to see him tripping with excitement at the prospect of "laundry time"
What is better than the shriek of delight he rewards me with for turning on the closet light? Only the wide-eyed "ooooooooh" he coos while breathlessly examining the contents of the linen closet. One day we'll head to Fenton's to count blue cars but until then we'll be singing Kookabura in the pool and folding laundry all summer long.