Simplified Parenting:: listen to the whale story

We are on a mission to simplify, and most days are failing miserably. We get caught in the cycle of never ending to-do lists. One more message, one more call, one more errand, one more chore. Even days when I just set out do to the ‘basics’ and get us all ready, dressed, fed and put together long enough to actually go DO something, the day is 1/2 over by the time we get to that point. With three active boys 4 and under, I’m convinced there is no such thing as ‘the basics.’ Nothing can happen simply without an incident or massive event around it.

Today I put a little more effort than normal into making a ‘special’ family day since daddy was able to stay home on what otherwise would be a ‘work’ day. We had yummy GF homemade apple peach cake for breakfast, played with magnet blocks, went on scooter rides around the neighborhood and stopped at all their favorite playgrounds, let them watch their favorite show, jumped on the trampoline, etc etc….all the stuff toddler dreams are made of, right? After putting the baby to bed tonight and thinking the boys were fast asleep, my husband heard sniffling coming from under one of the covers. My 4 year old just wanted to see mommy before falling asleep, so I went in and snuggled with him for a few minutes.

While I was loving the snuggles, I desperately hoped that he would be content with a quick squeeze and tuck-in, and quietly drift off into an immediate deep sleep. My to-do list of the evening was still running through my head, and I was running out of steam quickly. He obviously was NO WHERE NEAR as tired as I was, and  immediately started in on one of his ‘stories.’ This particular one was about the robot whale that he will invent that is a thousand pounds heavy and as big as an entire ocean and lives in a cave that is larger than the ‘camping’ beach we go to. I then proceeded to get every. last. detail. that his little brain could muster up about his fantastic, amazing, brilliant robot whale and what it could do and where it would go, etc etc. My boy is NOT known for telling short stories and he has no lack of imagination. I was fighting sleep so hard my eyes were literally crossing and running with tears of exhaustion. I tried a few times to que him to wrap it up and end the story, but was met with ‘just one more thing, mom’ over and over and over until I just had to completely cut him off. “Ok now that part is done.” He said. and seemed to finally take a breath after what seemed like an eternity of whale robot adventures.

I tried to quickly change the subject as not to allow the ‘one more thing’ to jump back in. “So what was your FAVORITE thing you did today?”, I asked.

Without skipping a beat, he grinned and said “That, mommy. That was it.” “Telling you my story was my favorite thing I did ALL day.” He reached his little arms over and hugged me so tight, smooching my cheek and grabbing my hair just like he has since he was a baby. “I love you so much, mommy.” And then he was content to roll over, close his eyes and drift off to sleep.

None of the things I had filled their little day with had made his list. None of the things that I had thought so hard to try and DO for them. Just those last few moments where I (not so patiently) stopped long enough to listen. That was his favorite thing.

He taught me more right then than I learned in all my ‘busyness’ of the day. I need to remember this tomorrow, and the next day, and the next day. Keep. it. simple. and just listen. Those are the moments that make their memories.

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