Monday, November 09, 2009

A Simple Yes

Perhaps I should get out of the kitchen more.

It is, happily, the heart of our home. And it is where so much of my learning is done. Where my movements are slowed, my heart quieted as I focus on smaller thoughts, greater impact.

But there are delighted shrieks coming from the living room, and as I peek around the corner, I am captivated by what is happening there.

She lies still and straight on the floor as Daddy pats her arms, legs, dots on a nose, shapes her hair. I listen closer, trying to ascertain the meaning of these strange movements.

Okay, I'm making a nose, putting on some hair, here is a leg, and another leg, one arm, two arms. All right, in the oven you go! And he scoops her up, she lies perfectly flat and still, and he scoots her two feet over. A make-believe door is shut, and he consults his watch for a beat of five.

And when he pulls the door open again, mumbling, All right, let's see if she's ready, "she" shrieks and jumps up and runs squealing down the hall, Baker Daddy in hot pursuit.

Gingerbread Girl, wait! he calls, and I collapse in giggles. Oh, her Daddy knows how to play with her. It began when they read this book together, and then he said a simple yes to her request to play. I'm not sure if I've ever quite grasped how to do that.

I can tie aprons around middles and guide hands in stirring a pot, and I can pat inviting blanket and snuggle close with a read-aloud. From time to time I will play catch with a mitt three sizes too large for my hand, and I can sometimes be found placating the "swing me's" until the sun has gone down and froggy-jumping till my legs are sore. I've even been known to throw an impromptu Fancy Ball to brighten up a day.

But do I really play?

My girl knows me. She knows me well. She doesn't ask me to come to her. She says, You can be the Queen who is making dinner, okay? or, You can be the Library Lady who is doing laundry! for she knows that I *cannot* stop what I am doing to play, for goodness' sake.

I know that my play isn't and shouldn't be the same as his play, he who has spent the day in other places and with others and when he comes home there is nothing he would rather do than play with his children. And yes, I understand that I'm here all day teaching and cuddling and kissing owies and nursing babies and preparing meals and the playing and the learning and the caring all go hand in hand, but I really would like to add more playing to my repertoire.

Just now, they've switched roles, and Daddy is lying still and flat on the floor, and her dimpled pink fingertips are daintily forming limbs, dotting on a nose and eyes (whoops, she poked too hard- he moved!) and combing hair up and out. There, she whispers, sitting back on her haunches. Now, put him in the oven for five-sixty-two minutes (and here she pretends to move him, though she really can't and instead just tickles his sides), now you're ready! And she throws her arms up as the invisible oven door gives way, but he doesn't move. She slides closer and leans in and takes a pretend bite~ You open your eyes and see me, she prompts, and he grabs her and makes chomping noises of his own and the shrieks of laughter paralyze her and I collapse in more giggles.

And then I'm back here again, boiling the chicken and shredding the cheese and chopping the onions and peppers and I hear the delighted shrieks and I'm lonely.

Yes, I should get out of the kitchen more often.

So tomorrow I'm going to say yes to reading Jabberwocky with an accent and exciting movements and eliciting terror and delight in my children. And I'm going to say yes to a skip down the sidewalk with my girl and I'm going to say yes to a jump out from behind a corner and scaring a big boy coming back from his chores and I'm going to say yes to a belly laugh with my baby at absolutely nothing just because it's his favorite thing.

A simple yes, really. It will only take a few moments. And then I'll be right back in the kitchen where cooking and life and learning rub shoulders with feeding and loving and leading. But I just might come back a little bit more fun.

Wanna come, too?

11 fellow travelers shared:

Linda said...

Ah yes - wise choices Elise. These days I am playing with grandchildren - my little ones have little ones of their own. How swiftly the days turn into years.
Oh yes - take time to play.

John said...

I'm right behind you:) - Katie

~nanashouse~ said...

No Guilt!!! This is the time God has allowed for only Daddys and Girls. We can fill many roles but not the ones God has ordained for Daddys and girls alone. :-)

jenny said...

Wow! I had planned to read Jabberwocky to my kids tomorrow during our morning floor time!!! :)

Ginger@chirgies said...

Another blessing, this post. Yes, those Daddy's are amazing - but I seem to remember a skirt floating as you went down the stairs, and doing it over and over much to the delight of the little girls. You are a fun Momma, too. ;)

I'll join you!

Stacy said...

This makes me thankful to have married the man I did. One much like yours, I imagine. He can be found on the floor, with our kids, every night. Or bent over the Lego bin, building. Or putting on a CD and dancing around the living room with one of our little girls. Or somehow making his body become a ride that all the kids want to try out, taking turns and squealing. Oh, I love it.

And yes, they just know how to play. I think that so often- how does he *do* that? It seems to come so naturally.

For that I am thankful.

Cathy said...

It really isn't hard, is it? "Say 'yes'". I can do that. Thanks for inspiring :)

Deidra said...

Beautiful post. Truly beautiful. I've been thinking (and posting) about play these days. Thanks for sharing this.

Amanda said...

That is so sweet! It's amazing what men can come up with... how creative and spontaneous they can be.

EEEEMommy said...

A simple yes...
I've never been very good at playing myself, and I too have felt the loneliness as a result. Such a bittersweet post.

jenny said...

Thought of you this morning and smiled when I read the words snicker-snack. :)

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