Friday, May 05, 2006

Late Afternoon in the Sun

This afternoon I did something I don't do nearly often enough. I simply sat on the floor.

When I station myself in one place, my children come to me (as is evidenced by any trip I have made to the bathroom in the last 7 years). I don't have to do anything at all, just sit, and I get to experience unplanned, unstructured time with my children that tells me a lot about who they are. In and out they orbit around me, sometimes coming all at once, and sometimes wandering by one at a time.

Today I sat in the boys' room because the late afternoon sun was stretching across the floor in the most inviting way. Tony sat by me on the floor, curling his baby toes with the effort of exploring a toy dump truck and all that it can do. I sat, reclined on the floor with my head propped up by my unbroken arm, and watched him. Practicing his new crawling skills, he moved like a rusty engine, forward, collapse, forward, collapse, drool, forward. Stop, smile a toothless grin, forward again. More drool.

As I watched him, I thought that, in most families, he would not exist. Indeed, if I had not read Kimberly Hahn's Life Giving Love, he would not exist in mine. I thought I had my hands quite full with the four kids I already had. A good Catholic, I practiced Natural Family Planning, never once considering that I perhaps I shouldn't. Kimberly's book changed my life and my view on children completely (as well as the lives of the 4 friends I passed it on to who have produced 3 new souls themselves as a result , but that is another story!). Thank you, God, for speaking through Kimberly and sending Tony to our family.

After awhile, Julia wandered in. Ever wishing she was still the baby, she noted with interest the baby activity blanket I had spread on the floor and began availing herself of its many diversions.

In came Lindsey. She peeled off her shoes and socks, dumped them unceremoniously on the floor, jumped on the Sam's bed awhile (hey, at least she took off her shoes--no one can say I am not teaching my children manners) and went off to make a birthday card for her Kindergarten crush.

Sam came next. He observed a used glow stick on his bookshelf and inquired about our current supply of not-used glowsticks and where they might be. Lindsey returned with an array of green markers and consulted Sam, our family expert, on which shade would make the most authentic Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle. Sam decisively made his selection and Lindsey returned to the project table.

Joey tumbled in, saw Lindsey's less-than-fresh socks on the floor and began tossing them at me. Sam quickly joined in the game. I bolted upright and, to Joey's complete delight, stuffed them down his shirt. He ran downstairs, came back up with ice cubes and I quickly put an end to that game.

Joey then proposed that he change Tony's diaper to the tune of $20 (I considered it for a brief moment before I laughed). He consistently worked down his price until we got to a quarter, his final offer. I declined and we did it together, while Tony happily played with a tube of Desitin.

Each child is a unique gift. When I forget to sit and simply observe them, I miss out on a lot. I am thankful for the afternoon sun that beckoned me to lie still today.

Now I'm off to do the laundry and dishes that, unfortunately, did NOT go away while I enjoyed my children.

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