Sunday, January 20, 2013

Woodland Creatures and Crystal Marbles

My boys are good at play, and if this is truly the work of children, then my children are very hard workers.  Recently, I have noticed an intensity and increase to their play.  Thankfully, they play fairly well together even though we do have the third-wheel-dynamic in our family.  Both his father and I feel routinely sorry for him as he marches from the room of play into the room we’ve escaped to, “They are not letting me play with them,” his lower lip protrudes, “I want to play with them.”  And it is true, the other two are extremely close and A does get excluded a lot.

Our oldest two play like twins: no one gives instructions, they both know their roles.  They’ve created all sorts of memorable characters over the 6 and ½ years of their brotherhood, but my favorite will always be Skater Bug and Lotion.  (Naked and Butt were a bit annoying.)   Currently they have perfected a fairly jazzy dance routine called the “Dummy Dance.”  I think it could outpace gangmen style if only this mommy would embrace You Tube.

Because I value play and imagination over all other character traits, my house is often in complete chaos.  There was a time when I dreamed for my boys to reach the early elementary years, surely there wouldn’t be so many toys scattered throughout the kitchen, living room, and bedrooms.  But this has never come to fruition.  My couches hardly ever wear their cushions.  Currently they are the frames for the woodland animal burrow that is in the TV room.  But really I’d rather them be this than sit idly waiting for some grown-up to take the time to sit on them and have a mannerly conversation in our put-together surroundings.  Plus, woodland creates are so very cute and cuddly, don’t you think?

This morning I was suspicious when I caught the boys sneaking all of my Tupperware into their woodland setting.  But I just smiled and reassured them that it would be OK.  When I entered their world I found they had sorted all their marbles, labeled the tubs with permanent markers, and were bringing a little sci-fi into their talking-animal-setting.  Somehow these marbles were secret crystals that would enable mole, chipmunk, and rabbit to acquire essential powers. 

There are breaks in their play.  Someone gets hurt, someone gets frustrated, someone feels left out.….OK, so it is always A, the youngest.  But even the oldest two need to come back to reality from time to time.  This is when they write.  Our piano room is covered in white computer paper and crayons where they compose their stories and create their character posters.  They come to me and ask, “How do you spell endangered?  Do you like my new creature?  His name is Vyzzy; he’s so cute.”

My permissible parenting has certainly been a contributing factor to their active imaginations, but there is something else driving this latest uptick…something I hate to admit to be true.  It is something I’ve ranted and raged against.  Something I have rolled my eyes over…something I have fought.  But like so many of my soapboxes:  Costco, mini-vans, blogging…I give myself full permission to change my mind, come to a compromise.  Curious?  It is the Wii.  I am so glad we put it off and made it special.  I think a 2nd grade boy is the perfect age for it, and I am glad that when they “finally” got theirs it really was a Christmas present to remember, but it hasn’t been the worst-decision-of-our-lives.  In fact, it has mostly been a good thing.

It motivates them to clean their rooms, put away their laundry, help me take out the garbage, finish their homework….it always gives me space and time to write, read, and take a nap.  It has allowed Hans and I to sleep in!  And we like playing with them.  I’m still sticking by my belief in moderation, but I need to admit that there appears to be a direct correlation in their increased desire to conduct imaginary play and all those Skylander levels they’ve conquered.  Did I really just say that?  Yes, yes I did.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Top Ten Reasons I've Been NOT Writing

10.  It is the winter, and I find the winter uninspiring.

9.  I'm no longer in those early years of parenting...when my only outlet and adult conversation was with myself and my blog comments.

8.  Also, those young years are really hilarious.  I'm finding elementary years to not be quite as chaotic, and in need of a laugh for stress relief.

7.  I've gone back to work, part-time.  My creative energies are finding venues with my preschoolers and the teacher in me is soaring feels so good.

6.  I'm wanting privacy. I think all this social-networking has made my world feel very small, and I seem to be wanting more space just for myself without others crowding in.

5.  I'm finding myself being pushed into new writing venues.  And I want the time to pursue those.

4.  There are now five computer users in the house and still only one computer. 

3.  My best time to write is in the afternoon, but if I choose to sit and write it means my youngest is going to stare at the TV for hours with no interaction while his mommy gets lots of think-time.  Guilt!

2.  I'm waiting...I've written a rough draft, and I'm waiting to hear back from some 2nd and 3rd readers.  I find that in my writing process I like to take STOP time...stop time is when I put my work away, and I don't look at it for a time.  Shorter pieces mean shorter stop time; longer works can take months of ignoring.

1.  I'm asking a lot of questions, in my head.  I'm doing a lot of processing.  I'm doing a lot of listening.  I'm collecting. 

Basically I have writer's block and these are my excuses.  If I wanted to write I would make the time, create the space, embrace the habit.  Writing for me is an essential spiritual discipline.  So there is a part of me that is distracted and restless and found wanting.