This morning my children discovered the beauty of carrying an empty gray plastic bin across the room together and emptying every single puzzle we had into it. Yes, every single puzzle (without their corresponding puzzle boards).
They giggled and laughed and smiled and grinned and checked in with me that what they were doing was okay. Smiling. It was. They’re pretty good at emptying the puzzles on the floor (next to their corresponding puzzle board) and they’re really good at cleaning them up so I didn’t mind that this time the mess was a bit more extravagant. It was like the indoor equivalent of making huge mud pies.
They giggled some more and leaned in to the gray bin to stir and mix the ingredients for some pretend supper. They talked and whispered (little girl grunts and hmmhmmm’s) for fifteen or twenty minutes. Then, with a glorious jump up, they emptied the contents of the gray bin onto the floor. It was quite the mess.
Play is such an important time for kids and recently I’ve been reading some posts about play and the benefits of it. Sometimes I feel guilty when I’m doing dishes or writing or paying bills and my kids are left to their own devices to entertain themselves, but mostly I just love what comes out of these times – even if sometimes it’s messier than others.
(A quote from a friend’s Facebook page: “We all need empty hours in our lives or we will have no time to create or dream.” Robert Coles –contemporary American child psychologist.)
The two kids were playing so well together and were thoroughly and happily engaged in their antics. They were in their heads – focused and imaginative and centered.
I joined in and with an hour to go before lunch, I suggested we start picking up. Picking up has become a fun time when the puzzles are strewn all over. We all like puzzles (If I didn’t like puzzles then no way in heck would I allow such a mess!) and we’ve dealt with these huge disasters before so there are no emotional breakdowns.
We sat and began the process of sorting and categorizing. Little boy took longer to warm up to the sorting today because I think he was a touch overwhelmed (thus, it was a great practice session!) while little girl jumped right in looking for pieces to a puzzle she could do.
Relatively quickly we had a semblance of order and that’s where the real fun began. All three of us buckled down and did puzzles, sometimes talking aloud to ourselves, sometimes leaning over the same puzzle, sometimes breaking into an Ella Jenkins chant, but all three focussed for a really long period of time.
Little boy likes working on the same puzzle as me at the same time. Not a problem. Little girl likes sitting in my lap and handing me pieces. Not a problem. Little girl loves collecting the finished puzzles and putting them back in the drawer. Great. We all had tasks to do and when we finished, we were all hungry and ready for lunch.
We also were all nice and relaxed from being in our own heads.
When I watch TV (which I love to do) I’m not in my own head. When I chat with people, constantly talk, follow kids around, I’m content, but not in that focused semi-meditative space that comes with concentration and quietness. It’s something I think I miss about working.
I also sometimes think that the messes the kids and I make are incredibly valuable for the skills they teach us for tackling problems, the space they give us to work alongside one another productively and quietly, and the fun they give our heads to be focused and quiet.
It was a very good morning.