Monday, March 5, 2012

Free to throw snowballs...

One of the things I have been working on as a mother is giving my kids a bit more independence. I'm sometimes the type that, if it were more socially acceptable, would wrap my kids in bubble wrap, keep them locked in the basement, and make them wear football helmets even when sleeping. This is a tendency I spend a lot of time fighting back, and because of it, I am occasionally smacked in the face with the realization of what precisely my kids can do, beyond my expectations.

Case in point: with this baby, I have mentioned I was sick. Much of my first trimester was spent losing weight, thanks to my inability to stomach the mere thought of food, much less eat it without it coming up. Most of my mornings were spent laying in bed or on the couch, mustering the courage to face my work day. Other times, I would drag myself around, attempting to play with the kids or get things done. Lucky for me, it turns out that Squirrel is quite the domestic assistant. Thanks to my illness, I learned that she can (and actually loves to!): pour cereal and milk for her and Little Bird; make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches; start a movie; pick out everyone's clothes for the day; empty (some of) the dishwasher; and make the beds.

In most cases, letting her do these things usually left me feeling like a colossal failure (like when, at 22 weeks, I was throwing up again and laid in bed, and she said, "I'm sorry mama. I should have made us breakfast this morning, but I forgot." The kid still says "breffast" and is apologizing that she didn't feed her 4 year old self and 3 year old brother?!? Epic mommy-fail!), but I have also realized that she and Little Bird take a great deal of pride in doing things on their own. He is learning to use the potty and dress himself, and Squirrel is his biggest cheerleader and advisor (going so far as to demonstrate step-by-step in the bathroom how to get it done). When she makes a PB&J, or he puts his shirt on the right way, they positively GLOW with pride, and not even because I celebrate with them; there is a genuine and deep sense of accomplishment at doing something on their own. 

So...I am trying to give them a bit of independence.

We haven't had a whole lot of snow this year, actually a remarkably small amount, as I previously mentioned. But in the last month and a half or so, we've been getting the occasional fluff. And so yesterday, my kids asked if they could go out and play in it. And Squirrel specifically asked if they could go out *alone.* Generally, my immediate response would be to say no and distract them with a fun game where they would be locked up tight in my over-vigilant sight. This time, I reminded myself that I didn't have a good reason for saying no, and that they had been showing me how much they could do. So I set some ground rules and let them loose.

Mostly they stomped around, kicked the snow, and puddle jumped. Then they hung upside down on the banisters over the concrete steps (insert image of me picturing their brains spilled everywhere and literally biting my tongue to keep from hollering at them to stop...they totally survived AND still have all their brains in their heads!).

Then Squirrel got an idea. You can see it forming here...

And the approach here...

She pummeled her little brother with a snowball. 
He, in turn, came running to the door where I had just started taking pictures, near tears, to tattle. 
"Mommy! Sister frowed a snowball at me!"

Ordinarily, I would have probably given him a kiss, reprimanded his sister, 
and said it was time to come in. 

This time, I stopped to think, and then I said:
"Well, I guess you better throw one back at her!"

His expression immediately changed to pure mischief, and he was off to retaliate. 
And then came one of my favorite scenes thus far in the year: 

They had so. much. FUN. They both threw snow until they were out of breath. No tears, just laughter. No fights, just fun. And when they looked exhausted, I invited them in for hot chocolate. 

They were so proud of their outdoor play "alone."

Today Squirrel, wide eyed with excitement, said, "Mom. Remember that time you let me and brother have a snowball fight outside...all by OURSELVES???"

Yep, I remembered.

"That was really fun."

Note to self: a little freedom goes a long way. 

Maybe I'll let Squirrel make me breakfast in bed tomorrow...scrambled eggs, and hold the guilt. ;) 


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