On my bedside table at the moment – I won’t say I am reading it as that would involve actually picking it up and opening it more than once a month – is The Parent’s Tao Te Ching: A New Interpretation by William Martin. Although my non-sleeping children prevent me from committing to books, I highly recommend it as you really can dip in and out when you need an uplifting parenting pep talk.
It is a series of lessons and lesson one has really struck a chord with me.
Lesson 1: Words of Life
If you take delight in the ordinary wonders of life,
They will feel the depth of your pleasure
And learn to experience joy.
This got me thinking about all the little things I fail to really see as I focus on getting through the day. How many times have I chosen to do the washing up instead of watching the Dude immerse himself in an epic battle between Bertie the Friesian cow and Mr Roar, the Tyrannosaurus Rex? As Pea is the second child, she has fared worse still, I mean when did she even start walking again?
So, I have decided to write about these things as a way of really focusing in on the details that are much more important to me than the dishes in the sink or the clothes in the laundry basket, the ordinary wonders of our family life.
This week’s ordinary wonder is a puddle jumping boy. What four year old boy doesn’t like skipping in puddles, squelching in the mud and splashing in paint? Boys are meant to be relentless in adding to that laundry basket I am so keen to ignore, aren’t they? Well not my boy. Or he was until recently.
It started when we went to The Art Garden for a messy play session. I confidently told the lady running the session that the Dude would be happy sitting at the craft table while Pea created havoc out the back. An hour later, I felt quite embarrassed to be dragging my unrecognisable four year old out of there, caked head to toe in coco powder.
I am sorry to say that I wasn’t marveling at his new found love of mess at the time, it was more an irrational annoyance that he had done this on purpose to make it look like I had stolen him and was trying to pass him off as my own. What loving mother could get their child so wrong?
But it didn’t stop at there. Since then it is like my old before his time 4 year old is having a mid-preschooler life crisis and he has decided to embrace all things reckless. Puddle jumping to the max, tree-climbing to the extreme and no walk is now safe without a change of clothes- something I haven’t needed since he was a baby. And there have been many an uncomfortable moment where the childhood trauma of watching Artax the horse slowly sinking into the muddy abyss in The Neverending Story has been replayed in front of my very eyes.
It isn’t even just outside the house. I have always tried to encourage messy, sensory play and the Dude has played along within his limits but those limits have suddenly shifted and with it my baby wipe consumption.
Gone are the days of tentatively poking the goop or neatly rolling up his sleeves before selecting a suitable paintbrush for the job, he is just getting stuck in and it is incredible to watch. Don’t get me wrong, whatever the Dude’s personality and preferences are is fine by me, but this new level of freedom he seems to now possess is a breath of fresh air.
The lesson I have learnt from watching him these last few weeks is that no matter how well you think you know your children, no matter how set in their ways they seem, they are always capable of surprising you and what’s more wonderful than that?