Protect, don’t rule.
Let them be kids.
Don’t act out of anger.
If you think something is wrong, it is.
Say yes more than no.
Don’t teach fear, teach bravery.
“Momma, will you count with me?”
She asks me every night when I get her all tucked into bed. So every night I lay down next to her, snuggle in close where I can feel her breath on my face and in a whisper, we start together. 1…..2…..3….4…..
Most nights she makes it to 250 before she starts breathing heavily and twitching a little when the dreams start. I keep counting up to 300 just to make sure she’s deep enough into slumber for me to sneak out of the room. Some nights, like last night after a kitchen marathon dance party she drifts off to sleep at an early 120. Other nights I wake up an hour later realizing that I had dozed off myself probably somewhere around 210.
“Momma, do I have the magic right now?”
She believes she has magic powers at mommy’s house. She’ll stand in front of the tv and wave her arm in a circle, unaware of the fact that I have the remote hidden under my leg, and I’ll hit the pause button; in her mind, with her magical powers she froze the tv. Another swing of the arm towards the tv and it’s unfrozen. She’ll test her powers to see just how tiny of a movement she needs to make to freeze and unfreeze the image, or how fast she can swing that skinny little arm over and over and make it happen. Pause. Unpause. Pause. Unpause. For a while I didn’t know if she really believed it was her own magic or if she was just humoring me until one day I didn’t have the remote ready when she started swinging and she was actually sad that her magic wasn’t working.
“Momma, can we make shadow puppets?”
We make shadow puppets at night, laying in bed, the flashlight on my phone pointing to the ceiling. We’ll make butterflies, horses, giraffes and bunnies even though I have discovered all of my shadow puppets look like an angry dinosaur. We end up laughing in hysterics and she gets the hiccups every time.
“Momma, will you dance with me?”
I have a little radio in the kitchen that I can plug my iPhone into and play music. Kitchens are the best for dance parties of 2…we dance in front of each other holding hands and swinging our arms wildly, or I’ll hold her close like I used to when she was a baby and sway back and forth across the tiny kitchen to the beat of the music, or we’ll spin and hop and twirl in circles around each other singing at the top of our lungs not caring who can hear us down the hall. Sometimes we dance in the aisle at the grocery store, other times in a parking lot before we get in the car. We’ve danced at Dunkin Donuts, at daycare, in my parents’ backyard because when my girlie wants to dance with me, it’s so much more fun to say yes than to worry about who might be watching. We’ve had so many of these dance parties that I’m afraid I’ve forgotten how not to dance like a 3-year-old. I may end up embarrassing myself the next time I’m dancing somewhere with adults around.
I remember about 5 years ago standing in a bathroom at a restaurant as a mom and her little girl sang a silly song together at the top of their lungs and laughed not caring who was there to see, and I remember thinking, “that’s totally how I want to be when I’m a mom.” And it’s funny, I think that memory is still so vivid in my mind because without knowing it then, that woman was me 5 years from that moment. Let them be kids. Say yes more than no. Encourage. They say that kids start forming permanent memories somewhere between the ages of 3 and 4. And for the ones she won’t remember when she’s older, I’ll keep them here for her to read so my sweet pea can know how much she was loved during every magical moment of her beautiful life.
If you need us later, just look for two silhouettes dancing under the stars.