Puddle jumping is one of those rights of passage for kids. Don’t you think? It’s like braces, only fun. Like building sandcastles or trying to swing up and over the bar. And with all the rain we’ve had lately, standing water is the norm around here. My kids look for them when we drive through the neighborhood. “There’s one!” they shout. “There’s a big one in Mr. Steve’s driveway, Mom.”
In other months, I might’ve steered my kids toward dryer, more indoor type activities. But this month, we’re pulling on our rubber rain boots and jackets, and we aren’t afraid to get a little wet. So Mr. Steve and his wet driveway better watch out.
Tell me. When was the last time you went for a walk in the rain?
I found out today that my kids think I’m awesome when we play outside. Somewhere between home and the grocery store, them strapped into their car seats and pointing out every truck we passed, I asked them, “What do we do that’s awesome?” You see, I’m looking for summer ideas to avoid the end-of-summer crazies that hit us hard last year. I watched Max’s face light up in the rear-view mirror before he said, “Play.” Wait for it. “Outside.”
Play outside. What a simple simple something to do to make such an impact. Max giggled as he told me that he loves to slide and swing and dig and run and throw. And all the while, Julia was agreeing and laughing too. Hands and fingers were busy. Imaginations were moving. “Can we play outside when we get home?” Yes. Yes we can.
I think I expected them to list something complicated. Something difficult. Something that stresses me out just to think about. Like the overly busy museum with too many corners to hide in or the park playground where the equipment just blends into the woods. That’s the place where I once lost Julia trying to keep track of two kids on a busy Saturday. And we do go to the park (when it’s not busy or Jason’s around), but we can go outside anytime. We can walk through the sun room out the back door, and we’re there. Our feet are in the grass, there’s a swing set to play on, there’s a sandbox. We can dig and get ourselves dirty and chase and run and play.
And if that’s all it takes to make me “awesome,” then I can do that. And thank you to my children, once again, for teaching me. And showing me that it’s the smallest moments are sometimes the most important. We might just survive Summer after all.
This morning, Julia spent 20 minutes before breakfast writing me “notes” on star-shaped Post-its. “What do these say, Julia?” (I can still ask questions like that without her getting upset that I can’t read her writing. She’s almost 4. It’s coming.)
“Well, I want you to eat healthy, so it says, ‘You should eat healthy things like vegetables that are good for your tummy.’ ”
“What about this one?” I hold up another star. The writing is blue, and I can see a J, some circles.
“That one says, “Eat fruit because it’s healthy. And candy.” She’s smiling huge now.
We’ve been talking a lot about eating healthy this month. Julia wonders why I don’t have a sandwich at lunch or why I won’t share a cookie with her. And last night when we had family pizza night, she clearly noticed my salad-filled plate. She’s stepped into the role mommy lately. She grabs Max’s hand to help him through the parking lot at school, and her baby dolls are tucked in each night. Her teachers tell me she uses the toy doctor’s kit to give her friends checkups. She loves taking care, but I never thought that Julia would be the one to hold me accountable.
I am though, totally accountable for healthy eating. She gently puts her hand on my forearm or asks me what I’m doing when I try to sneak a spoon full of peanut butter. And she is even catching on to my wheat-less ways. It’s that’s a good thing.
As her mother, I’m her teacher and role model. I get it. And I see it all the time in the way she stands, the words she says. And I see it in moments like these. I’m happily held accountable and happily healthy as a result. Thanks, Julia.
Do you have someone or something to hold you accountable? Tell me about it.