My boys are growing up, and always want to be on the move now, so I filled our summer schedule to the brim. The teenager is especially fond of chasing fun. Slow days at home grow tiresome for him. But in the midst of all the going, I’m holding tight to the not so distant past, and all the memories of slow afternoons doing crafts and playing dress-up and eating popsicles when they were small.
Tonight I came across a sweet little journal entry from four years ago, and it made me all weepy. I just had to share it here, for those of you still knee deep in park dates and naptimes.
(March 2014) The other night I peeked in on my middle-est, long after he was supposed to be asleep. Instead of sleeping he was playing, propped up on his elbow, adjusting the 30-some mini-figures on his nightstand. As he worked he sang quietly to himself, “I won’t grow up… I don’t want to go to school… just to learn to be a parrot… and recite a silly rule…”
I’ve been thinking of the story of Peter Pan lately myself. My name is Wendy. And the name Wendy was first imagined, penned and introduced to the world by Scottish novelist and playwright J.M. Barrie. Audiences in England and America alike fell in love with Peter, the boy who never grew up, and Wendy, the lost boys’ play mother.
Standing on the cusp of a new season, I’ve been thinking of Wendy Darling and her lost boys. How dear she was to them, to darn their socks, tell them stories and put them to bed at the end of their adventurous days. While I don’t darn my boys’ socks, (I buy new ones at Target), I know the sweetness of story books and bedtime kisses on soft faces.
In the end, Wendy Darling returned home to England at the end of her adventure in Neverland, she didn’t stay a little mother for ever. And my season with littles is coming to an end as well.
A few weeks ago my littlest guy, in his last days of five, went to his friend Rosie’s birthday party. He found her a pretty necklace with her initial spelled out in rhinestones, and wrapped it in white paper that he then painted with pink and purple hearts. The day before the party Rosie told Asher that she’d be wearing a princess dress to her party, so Asher came home and immediately went digging through his dress up bin.
I watched at the party as the two of them played with other children; chasing balls, blowing bubbles, and spinning hoola-hoops around their tiny middles. And the thought occurred to me, this may be the last time he asks to have a lightening bolt painted on his face! This may be the last time ANY child of mine plays, unashamed, in a knight costume in front of strangers.
This imaginative, smiling, cookie eating, sippy cup toting season is indeed coming to an end. And my heart feels the pang.
Sweet Potato Pie is right!
And yet it’s all close enough to remember the scratchy constant noise of that annoying toy, and my concern over feet on the kitchen table. Oh to go back and smell his sweet cheerio scented neck and hold his miniature pants, and here the scratchily-scratch of that obnoxious battery-operated toy.
Slow down, Mamas. Slow it down.
Say yes to markers and crayons and water colors and sticker books and PJ’s until noon. Keep a tub of cookie dough in the fridge and say YES as often as you can. Tickle backs at bedtime, even when you’re eager for your own back to rest. And take plenty of pictures. Take pictures, but not at the expense of making memories. Make memories and make popsicles and make memories of those popsicles melting down arms and dripping off elbows on hot summer days. And say yes to the sprinklers, though you already did today. Say yes again. Push them high on swings and say yes to caterpillars and frogs. And let them wear their Yoda years everywhere they go for two years straight, because one day they won’t fit and you’ll be washing them and folding them up and putting them away into a bin of memories.
Wendy Darling knows the fine art of raising boys, but also when the end of a season bids her farewell. I’m standing there today. So say yes in my honor today, when your child asks you to get down on the floor and play legos. Say Yes.