For me, it was fifteen minutes. To her, it was the whole day.
She talked of snowbugs, made-up insects with a long stinger, three legs, five eyes, and two wings. She drew a picture of one.
“Her name is Folly,” she explained, “and she lives alone in a hollow oak tree.” There were other snowbugs, but not nearby. Folly liked her solitude and was not lonely.
Plum walked around the living room, hands moving, eyes lit up, explaining the intricate details of this creature. What it eats and where it lives and how it flies. I asked a question or two, but I could’ve remained silent and she would’ve kept going. She was captivated by her own imagination. I was there to observe and partake with her.
These are the moments that I could easily pass over and dismiss. There were dishes to be put away, my computer on the table, and the baby was napping. Opportunity to slip away and be in my grown up world was tempting. But I sat on the floor and listened. I pulled her on my lap and she drew pictures and diagrams of her creations. It was less than twenty minutes, but it became the biggest joy in our day. When later asked what she did all day, this is what she recalled.
“Be with me,” Plum often says. I hear those words first thing in the morning as I am making coffee. After spending all day with the kids, in the midst of cleaning up dinner, she will speak them again.
“I’m with you all day long!” I sometimes laugh, continuing on in my work. It is exhausting some days when I feel as if I have no time to myself, and yet those words are still spoken. But what she means is, Be present. Notice me. I need to feel loved.
Some days I want to shout, “Boundaries!” I need to get things done! I need a few minutes by myself! She needs to play independently! And I’ll tell her. When I’m finished, we can sit together. Other times, I take the two minutes to stop what I’m doing and pick her up in a hug. She’s expressing a need, a want. I know that when she’s older I will never get these moments back.
Be present. There are so many things demanding our attention. But what is most important? What has lifelong and eternal consequences? Where is my perspective? So, I aire on the side of a bit more mess and a bit more snuggles. A few more books and before bedtime chats. Too many kisses and too many chances. All that and a mandatory quiet time in the afternoon (or a sanity break, as I like to call it).
It is a balance, and some days I get it all wrong. There are times I revel in the delights of childhood. There are moments I certainly do not. Some days I feel guilt. Some days I am frustrated and need space. All days I need grace.
“And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work.” 2 Corinthians 9:8
These are the small moments. Yet they are so big.