Friday, September 25, 2015

Finding joy in the everyday in unexpected places

I admit I am not the most playful person, more prone to barreling through my to-do list, accomplishing what I feel I "should" do before leaving room for fun. However, this summer, I found myself prioritizing joy and fun and play. I didn't want to lose all that momentum when the humdrum of school-homework-dinner left very little time for fun.

On the drive home from school, I wondered if Clara and I could find a way to have fun despite the fact that the only time remaining to play in the day was dinner time. We decided to think of something fun to do while eating dinner. My suggestions included a picnic on the living room floor or eating while pretending to be other people and talking with accents. 

Clara had a much longer list which she wrote down as soon as we got home so that we could vote:

1. Watch while eating
2. Play board game.
3. Teach Mama how to play lemonade (a sing-song hand game she learned from friends)
4. Make a tent and eat in it.
5. Watch the sunset (maybe at the beach).
6. Play outside

We don't watch videos while eating as much as Clara would love to, so that was crossed off the list. I have been working with Clara to understand the concept of compromise. I was surprised she didn't really know what it meant when I mentioned the idea a few weeks ago. While discussing how to eat our fun dinner, she suggested we compromise. I was proud of her for remembering the word and being gracious enough to agree to it.

Since her idea of eating in a tent and my idea of having a picnic on the living room floor were somewhat similar, we combined ideas and compromised with a delightful dinner in a makeshift tent on the living room floor. 

This was not the first time we modified our dinner plans to make it a bit more special. When Clara was younger she liked to create her own restaurant at home with handmade menus and meals. We hosted the girls for an American Girl doll tea party (with questionable success) once before in our living room.

Clara dragged chairs into the living room and precariously rested a blanket over them creating a tent-like feel. She insisted we turn out all the lights to make it special. I found a camping lantern that helped to create a more authentic ambience.

Such a simple shift... just moving a few feet away from sitting on the dining room chairs to our living room floor, and yet it made all the difference in making this a special meal.

Clara said, "This is so nice." And then about five minutes later, "This is really nice." And then realizing her repetitions, she clarified, "You know when something is so fun that you just have to keep saying it...this is one of those times. I just can't stop saying how nice this is!"

A small victory. A bit of joy in a hectic day. A reminder that I can keep finding ways to make room for fun, even in every day life.


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