Peace in Playdates

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This week we managed to schedule and execute a playdate for LM1. Since LM1 and LM2 are so close in age, I was happy to see LM2 got “invited” to join in some of the fun, too.

We don’t do playdates very often. Life seems to get busy and “playdate” is never at the top of the list.

BUT WHY IS THAT?

We scheduled the playdate and OFF THEY WERE! Kiddos in flight!

Can I just tell you, I became Fly-on-the-wall-Mama for my sweet kiddos. Listening to the fun, silly, creative games they came up with was FANTASTIC. It brought such peace on my heart, I can’t even begin to describe it.

The kids had a handful of different things happening. All creative play, all building and dismantling, all giggles, and all kinds of rough housing. Were there foam swords for fencing matches? Yes, I’m afraid so. Was there an indoor snowball fight with the fuzzy balls Nana found them for Christmas? Why, yes, of course!

All of this is to say that coming off of the covid years, the return of playdates is not only important from a social standpoint, but apparently from a spectator standpoint as well.

The kids ate popcorn and orange slices and laughed their little tummies off. Did I understand any of the jokes?

No.

Was I welcomed to participate in any of the jokes?

No.

Did I enjoy hearing their laughter from afar?

You bet your sweet bottom, I did.

What brought you peace this week? Maybe phone a friend. Maybe share the peace!

Peace from Roald Dahl

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I picked up a copy of Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory a few weeks ago at our local library. I was so excited to share this tale with the kiddos. It’s fun to read a really long book over a few days’ time and build up the anticipation over what will happen at the end.

LM2 was especially into this one. He liked the children and the little details about those who won the golden tickets. There’s also something indescribably strange and fun about four bedridden grandparents in a tiny house that tickled our fancy, too. (I don’t know why, but this detail fascinated me as a child, too.)

The children didn’t really question the oddities of the story. They could only revel in its magic. They couldn’t get enough and with short chapters, they seemed never satiated. What FUN to read a story such as this.

The best part, by far was the ending. I’d forgotten how Dahl wrote little poems for each of the golden ticket winners and Mike Teavee’s warning song is so powerful, I wanted to type it for you below. These words resonated with me and with our kids. See if you have the attention span to read the entire poem. It’s beautiful and real and important. Perhaps it goes without saying, but the truth in these words brought me peace. And they do it again and again every time I re-read it. Enjoy!

The most important thing we’ve learned,
So far as children are concerned,
Is never, NEVER, NEWER let
Them near your television set–
Or better still, just don’t install
The idiotic thing at all.
In almost every house we’ve been,
We’ve watched them gaping at the screen.
The loll and slop and lounge about,
And stare until their eyes pop out.
(Last week in someone’s place we saw
A dozen eyeballs on the floor.)
They sit and stare and stare and sit
Until they’re hypnotized by it,
Until they’re absolutely drunk
With all that shocking ghastly junk.
Oh yes, we know it keeps them still,
They don’t climb out the window sill,
They never fight or kick or punch,
They leave you free to cook the lunch
And wash the dishes in the sink–
But did you ever stop to think,
To wonder just exactly what
This does to your beloved tot?
IT ROTS THE SENSE IN THE HEAD!
IT KILLS IMAGINATION DEAD!
IT CLOGS AND AND CLUTTERS UP THE MIND!
IT MAKES A CHILD SO DULL AND BLIND
HE CAN NO LONGER UNDERSTAND
A FANTASY, A FAIRYLAND!
HIS BRAIN BECOMES AS SOFT AS CHEESE!
HIS POWERS OF THINKING RUST AND FREEZE!
HE CANNOT THINK– HE ONLY SEES!
‘All right!’ you’ll cry. ‘All right!’ you’ll say,
‘But if we take the set away,
What shall we do to entertain
Our darling children? Please explain!’
We’ll answer this by asking you,
‘What used the darling ones to do?
‘How used they keep themselves contented
Before this monster was invented?’
Have you forgotten? Don’t you know?
We’ll say it very loud and slow:
THEY…USED…TO…READ! They’d READ and READ,
AND READ AND READ, and then proceed
TO READ some more. Great Scott! Gadzooks!
One half their lives was reading books!
The nursery shelves held books galore!
Books cluttered up the nursery floor!
And in the bedroom, by the bed,
More books were waiting to be read!
Such wondrous, fine, fantastic tales
Of dragons, gypsies, queens and whales
And treasure isles, and distant shores
Where smugglers rowed with muffled oars,
And pirates wearing purple pants,
And sailing ships and elephants,
And cannibals crouching ’round the pot,
Stirring away at something hot.
(It smells so good, what can it be!
Good gracious, it’s Penelope.)
The younger ones had Beatrix Potter
With Mr. Tod, the dirty rotter,
And Squirrel Nutkin, Pigling Bland,
And Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle and–
Just How the Camel Got His Hump,
And How the Monkey Lost His Rump,
And Mr. Toad, and bless my soul,
There’s Mr. Rat and Mr. Mole–
Oh, books, what books they used to know,
Those children living long ago!
So please, oh please, we beg, we pray,
Go throw your TV set away,
And in its place you can install
A lovely bookshelf on the wall.
Then fill the shelves with lots of books,
Ignoring all the dirty looks,
The screams and yells, the bites and kicks,
And children biting you with sticks–
Fear not, because we promise you
That, in about a week or two
Of having nothing else to do,
They’ll now begin to feel the need
Of having something good to read.
And once they start– oh boy, oh boy!
You watch the slowly growing joy
That fills their hearts. They’ll grow so keen
They’ll wonder what they’d ever seen
In that ridiculous machine,
That nauseating, foul, unclean,
Repulsive television screen!
And later, each and every kid
Will love you more for what you did.

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What brought you peace this week? Share the peace!

Peace in Cleaning Up

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There’s no secret that in my family, clean is king. I grew up in a tidy house with a very organized, thoroughly clean agenda. My parents spent lots of time with spray bottles and rubber gloves in hand. We even dubbed a little nickname for one another: The Rub-A-Dub-Dub Team.

Was I teased? I don’t know. Probably the right amount. But I can’t remember, though I do believe my house was once called “The Museum.”

While I can’t quite manage to bring our level of cleanliness to the same standard, I will say that cleaning now has a therapeutic, familiar, calming effect on me. It is something I can turn to. When the toilet is clean, I feel better. When I’m frustrated, I can scrub something and marvel at its transformation.

This morning, I spent time dispensing some of my clean peace wisdom and best practices onto the kiddos. Everyone was assigned tasks to clean and tidy the house. I gave everyone colorful sticky notes, each numbered with a few tasks. Each kid receives different tasks based on his/her age so that everyone takes around the same amount of time to get through his/her chores.

This morning, as a result of our efforts, I felt an enormous surge of peace. There is something magical about rote tasks that serve a purpose. LM1 had bed making, dishes, and laundry to do, while LM2 and LM3 were assigned the “more fun” task of bathroom toilets. They think this is the coolest thing to do because they get to wear the fun orange rubber gloves I bought for the occasion.

There’s something about unwrapping something from a package, fresh and clean, that makes little kids excited.

Finding peace, for me, is all about relaxing into something and giving it my full attention. When I see my kids giving their full attention to something, that brings even more peace. It was fun to see and wonderful to see the end result.

What brought you peace this week? Share the peace!

Peace With Pop-Its

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Last year’s back-to-school season taught us that Pop-Its are all the rage in elementary school. Who knew? This past Christmas, Santa brought everyone his own Pop-It toy. The kids mostly use them on the bus to help pass time during the ride to school, since we are one of the first bus stops in the morning.

But last week, I started something fun and new that I thought I might pass along.

When the kids are not being especially kind to one another, I’ve taken to using the Pop-It as a counter for compliments. I put the toy in the middle of us and we go around in a circle saying kind things about each other. Every kind phrase earns a pop. We try to fill up the whole circle. Sometimes we do. Sometimes we don’t.

This sounds lame, even as I type it. But you know what? It transitions our kiddos from their momentary tantrumy less-than-kind mental state. (Those moments find us at some point each day!) The kids focus on kind words for a few minutes. And this simple practice changes the tone of the room. It even makes me feel better.

I’ve heard parents complain about Pop-Its before, but this sort of use has a place in our home. It brings kind words and peace.

What brought you peace this week? Share the peace!