the art of being... present
Every day after lunch, with remnants of food still dabbled on her face, Ava asks for one thing:
"Mom, can we do an art project please?"
I hesitate. Because I know the right thing would be to first have her clean up the dishes with me... then put away leftovers... and her tricycle before Aaron trips over it again... pickup her Scholastic DVD's before Noah sticks them into the VCR... or the Mrs. Potato Head pieces before they are thrown into the abyss of the air vents on the floor.... I know I should stack her library books before another late fine accrues... or get a load of laundry done so their pajama tops match their bottoms...
But the hesitation gets deflected for some reason, and I find myself squirting her tempera paints into an egg carton.
In every color.
I find myself pulling up a child's chair - and watching her... create something so sporadic with colors in every direction. Suddenly a tree appears in emerald green... then with a wash of purple paint, a bicycle seat appears instead... We make small talk until Noah finds us at the art table. I pull off his sweater and give him a paintbrush. He dips it into a puddle of yellow and them stamps his white space... as if playing the drums.
He wants a different color for his second paint brush in his other hand - and starts to pull the carton towards him. Ava shrieks, and Noah threatens her with his brush by holding it like a spear. She doesn't give in - she's in the process of mixing more colors and needs close access. They play tug of war until finally, I intervene and remind them about the "middle" of the table.
But to Noah, the "middle" appears misleading at his height... so he climbs to the top of the table and discovers a more unconventional way to paint - like using his bare feet.
I picked up Noah in full fledged giggles [he knows not to stand on tables!] and carried him to the bathroom. He laughed when I washed the bottom of his feet. So I pretended they were still dirty so I could hear him laugh even more. We changed his clothes quickly so we could check back with Ava... Too late. She painted both of her palms. Second amateur painter whisked into the bathroom - now flooding a new room with their paint...
In every color.
Their clothes eventually made it through with the loads of laundry later that night... the art table and bathroom counter tops were wiped clean, and their toys once again reunited with their boxes. Stains, clothes, missing pieces of toys... are replaceable. But what can't be is our time with our children. By doing so, we're teaching them the importance of embracing the present, and living passionately.
They do this so naturally, and I remind myself how to do so by following their lead.
Even if they have to go to bed with mis-matched pj's...