Yesterday I told my 8 year old to leave the TV and do something else. I wanted to watch friends, my only source of laughter in these times, and of course the kids couldn’t be around. Now, I usually do not watch TV when kids are awake but I really needed a distraction and some laughter. The kid did some drama but did leave. I was relived and turned the 8th season on — I really needed to know the Joey and Rachel story which I had never found the time to follow. But no sooner than I had settled in my bliss did the kid return.
“What do I do mumma?”
“Go read a book,”
“I have read ALL the books at home!”
“Go write something in your new journal”
“I have lost the key to the lock in my journal, help me find it”
“Go do some drawing!”
“I cannot draw!”
I was almost in tears of frustration and anger by now. The normal reaction would have been to turn the TV off and storm out of the room but I resisted. I told her to wait until I finished and then I’d help her draw something.
I have been a mother for over 12 years now and while I have done a lot of things with my children, I haven’t done much of school stuff. There are two reasons: 1) We were blessed with a school that took care of everything and 2) I do not like spending time repeating things that have already been done in school. In short, I did not know my kid can actually not draw a basic house-tree-bird-garden drawing. It was a revelation and I suddenly too embarrassed to never had known it.
And so I sat down last evening with the kids (the older refused to draw so she read). I abandoned all plans of writing and pitching, cooking and cleaning and got her to draw and colour. I taught her to use a ruler and measure the walls. I drew my signature tree for her and taught her to make little birds with the numerical ‘2’. It took us over an hour, just to do the basic drawing and ensure it was colored well. It helped that I put the phone away and was completely in the moment with her — she was much more centered than she usually is, and I much more patient.
I have begun to realize how much anxiety and instability I have nurtured, not only in myself but also my kids, in the quest of doing everything perfectly: “no spills when you paint, no mess when you draw, pick everything up and keep your room clean!” In the race to ensure they know more than I ever did and learnt new and better things than I Iearnt, we never experienced the joy of little things together.
Many years ago, I had read a poem that had spoken about the joy of ordinary. I remember sharing it on my facebook wall and flaunting that my parents brought me up relishing every little joy the ordinary life offered us, and that I will become a parent like that one day. But I seem to have failed.
But last night, I resolved to get back to being ordinary. No points of trying to be extra ordinary if it strips your life of little pleasures.
And yes, I found the poem too — here it is for you.
“Do not ask your children
to strive for extraordinary lives.
Such striving may seem admirable,
but it is the way of foolishness.
Help them instead to find the wonder
and the marvel of an ordinary life.
Show them the joy of tasting
tomatoes, apples and pears.
Show them how to cry
when pets and people die.
Show them the infinite pleasure
in the touch of a hand.
And make the ordinary come alive for them.
The extraordinary will take care of itself.”
Hope we all can manage to find wonder in ordinary, and understand its importance too.