Monday, October 13, 2008

Race cars in the microwave

For me, one of the simplest pleasures of raising children is found in the most unexpected of ways - finding discarded, abandoned toys in unusual, unexpected places.

In the quiet of the evening, when I am wearily in the midst of the final toy clean up, I am often made to pause for a moment, and reflect on just what, exactly, led the race car to park itself in the play microwave, the small pile of Legos to land themselves next to the cats' food, or the measuring cups from my kitchen to nest themselves inside the ride-on train. Particularly on the days when I felt as though I might possibly run, screaming down the street, at the idea of creating one more train track or building one more Lego skyscraper, I love finding these unexpected reminders of the joy we found in our day. I am taken back to that moment we made "yucky coffee" in the play kitchen, when we created snails and nests filled with eggs from play-doh, or when we lined all the vehicles up for a "car parade."

But there's always something I miss. And that's the part that gets me the most. When was it that Leo tucked that race car away in the microwave? And what was he thinking - will it fit? Will it taste good? Maybe he was pretending it was a large hunk of brownie? And then there are the Legos near the cat food... was Aidan simply escaping his brother, who has a penchant for destroying Lego creations? Was he making a dining table on which the cats might eat? Or did he simply abandon them, his attention stolen by the crayons at the easel, a bird at the feeder?

It humbles me, actually, these discoveries. For as much as I think I know about them, as much as I try to orchestrate a fulfilling day of events, my children are hard at work, orchestrating their own ideas and opinions and ways in which to manipulate this amazing world - with or without me. It is that constant pull between wanting them under my wing at all times, and wanting to push them out of the nest to fly.

"Be aware of wonder. Live a balanced life - learn some and think some and draw and paint and sing and dance and play and work every day some." -Robert Fulghum

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