My creative 7-year-old recently learned how to make paper claws. Because of this new skill, we now have paper claws in nearly every room of our house (along with treasured paper airplanes and hats from weeks gone by).
And because of this new skill, I have two options:
One, I can get irritated that paper claws have taken over our entire house and spend time cleaning them up and persuading my budding engineer to stop making them.
Or . . .
Two, I can take a few minutes to enter into the world of my 7-year-old boy by asking him to show me how to make a paper claw.
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And of course, I know which option I should pick.
Because when I look back on my childhood, this is what I remember . . .
I remember my hard-working mom sitting on the floor with me making rocket ships out of toilet paper rolls.
I remember my hard-working dad taking the time to patiently show me how to get my remote control bulldozer to work.
I remember mom sewing doll clothes with me.
I remember dad fixing my bike.
I remember them helping me transform cardboard boxes into ships and cars and castles.
Did my dad want to fix a broken toy after hours at his job? Did my mom want to set aside her long to-do list to spend time creating with me? I imagine they might have inwardly wanted to be taking a nap or doing a myriad of other things. But I didn’t sense it.
What I felt was that they were completely content to be present with me at that moment, in my world.
And this is what I hope for my little boy. That when he looks back on his childhood, he will see me there beside him in some of those everyday-life memories. And maybe one day he’ll think, Wow. She probably didn’t really feel like learning how to do that. Now I realize more how much she loved me.
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Because that’s how I feel about my parents. And it’s how I know that the little things that could become big irritations could also be transformed into some of my children’s sweetest memories.
We only get one childhood. And we often look back on that childhood for the rest of our lives.
How can I really expect my children to want to mature enough to enter the real world if I’m not willing to meet them where they’re at while they’re still young?
And what a gift to be invited into my children’s worlds and experience childlike wonder all over again right beside them.
So I think today, while I’m still invited, I’m going to learn how to make a paper claw. Who knows, maybe I’ll end up being as excited about them as my little boy is. The world will still be waiting with to-do lists and trials, but right now, I think his little world is right where I need to be.
And maybe one day, my grown-up, little boy will want to revisit that world with his children too.