Yes, holidays, birthdays, vacations, and sports events get immortalized on videotape, but not the stuff that matters just as much. The simple stuff we often forget the moment it’s done. The inside jokes, the family mannerisms, the re-telling of family lore both comedic and tragic, definitely embellished over the years, and, yes, even the every day ins-and-outs.
Yes, please do take some time and sweat the small stuff.
It’s the day-to-day interactions with my children that count and that I hope will build the love and respect that will get us through those looming teenage years of tumult:
Taking the time to dig for worms, finding those magical caterpillars and letting them plant the tulips and hyacinths even though you could do it so much faster.
Letting all three of your children at one point or another set up a hair salon with you being the customer. Oh, the ratted tendrils, pinched scalp from the thirtieth barrette, and the crazy pony tails in every which direction. The goosebumps on your scalp as pudgy hands lovingly pat your head and squeeze your neck in thanks. Being given a mirror to see their artwork only to use the mirror to instead reflect their chubby faces and scrunched noses full of pride.
The sleepy-eyed, ruffled hair, morning hugs. Sometimes those little arms have gotten so strong they squeeze my breath away.
The giggles around the dinner table, especially when it involves S-E-X. Yep, we pretty much are an open book to our kids. No chagrin. No prudes. Curiosity encouraged.
Two heads, one brunette and one red head, bent over a particularly challenging math problem.
Reading with an emerging reader and saying those ever-present words, “Try to sound it out,” in way that encourages and doesn’t frustrate.
Toasting the heels of bread and smoothering them in melted butter and honey. Or cinnamon and sugar. Licking our lips to get the crumbs and giggling.
Chasing after a silly, beloved family pet. Working as a team chasing this elderly loved one with the heart of a puppy, around and around the house. Up the front stairs. Down the back stairs. Around the dining room. Never able to catch him and his wagging rump.
Taking a practice spelling test with a small hand making loose loops of cursive while a mature (I’d like to think sophisticated even) voice makes up silly sentences for the spelling words to fit into that might always target a certain Daddy or elder brother as the object of mirth.
Sewing a stuffed monster for a project, or this month, an ambitious pioneer dress and bonnet as a mother-daughter team.
Driving to early morning swim practice and engaging one sleepy pre-teen boy in conversation. Trying to pull more than monosyllabic replies out of his noggin.
Reminiscing about who looked like what growing up at the breakfast table.
Remembering aloud what every child’s first five words were including their original, sweet pronunciations which are always sure to illicit a chuckle from all.
Fighting with light sabers and fighting off Nerf bullets.
Giggling with delight as a certain third grade sister dresses up a very good-natured kindergartner like this:
Or even better, she adds some permanent marker to make up for the previous feminine accoutrements:
Mentioning someone looked taller which prompts everyone to rush to the pantry to measure with pencil, marker, crayon, cereal boxes, and measuring sticks and add to the wiggly, meandering, cross hatched caterpillar on our wall. Just so you know, at 5’8”, I haven’t grown an inch in years while those darn kids keep creeping closer to me. Eldest has only 6 inches to go... (Sigh.)
Putting a chin on top of a little head, smelling the sweet fragrance of their shampoo…then realizing one day that you can’t get your chin on top of that head. (Sniffle.)
Giving impromptu piggy-back rides…then realizing they have become too heavy to pick up. (Tears are welling up at this point.)
At bedtime, making everyone into “baby burritos.” Need the recipe?
First, wrap them in tortillas made of their own blankets. Tickle them with spoonfuls of salsa, sour cream, and zigzagging dribbles of guacamole. Splosh beans onto their tummies. Add heavy chunks of chicken. Don’t forget to spread the rice.
Then, come the ever-so-thrilling words, “Good Night. Sleep Tight. And … don’t let the Mommy bugs bite.” Wicked glee and uncontrollable chuckles, whimpers, and bellows of belly laughs fill the room as said Mommy nuzzles said pinned child and makes delicious lip-smacking noises. Mmmmm…mmmmm. Freshly bathed necks taste so yummy you say with a Cookie Monster-voice.
And lately, the little thing that’s making me wax nostalgic is this:
Yep, lunch notes to dear PB.
It seems she’s been collecting them in the outer pockets of her lunch box. Use the napkins?? Bah! Apparently, they are treasures.
She finally is letting them go though because I was running out of endearments.
At least that’s what I said to explain the chicken lips.
I thought it was funny. She was all full of bluster and mock-outrage in her girliness. I like Princess Baby better she says.
She said she would be willing to throw them away, so we could start over. Hmmm…
As I recall, Eldest also collected his notes and napkins as well at this age.
And, I am sure, Li’l Man will too when he takes a lunch to school next year.
And yes, I recall I kept my moms notes for me. I was her “Precious Clown.” Oh, the delight of opening that sack lunch to find some reassuring jott that I was loved.
Unnecessary, but amazingly effective.
PB today brings me a napkin and pen. She turns her head away. She wants it to be a surprise. She looks forward to these simple, little things.
How simple to do. How easy to please.
Take a few minutes to write a note to your school age child—I am sure even your high school student would even enjoy a blast from the past to feel special.
And, just as important, write these fleeting memories down, before they escape away...