This past Saturday, we had very little planned. After going on a run with a good friend (Hi Leslie!), I was home and cleaned up by 9:00 a.m. Dennis and I had some cleaning projects to tackle around the house, so we got to work while the kids played outside. After a little while, Teo ran in and asked to open the dinosaur fossil kit we gave him for his birthday. Dennis got it down from his closet and explained to Teo what he needed to do.
This kit includes miniature dinosaur bones encased in a block of plaster. Kids use a mini pick to chip away the plaster to reveal the bones. Once all the bones are free you assemble the dinosaur model. Teo had the Tyrannosaurus Rex edition. Dennis got him all setup at one of the patio tables and we expected this project to keep his attention for a little while.
As we cleaned and did household chores, we kept commenting to one another about Teo’s dedication to this project. We could see and hear him diligently picking at the plaster through the sliding door in our bedroom. He was covered with plaster dust and very focused. We’d never seen him concentrate for so long on one task. We’re talking nearly three hours of archeological excavation!
Sienna got in on the fun too. Being the helpful big sister, she was enthusiastic and supportive of Teo’s efforts and did a little chipping too. It was really cool to see her excited about something he was doing, since typically it’s the other way around, with Teo thinking anything Sienna does is very interesting.
When Teo had finished chipping away all the plaster, he called “Dad! I need your help!” Dennis washed off the bones and helped assemble the T-Rex. Both of them beamed with pride when they brought in the completed dinosaur. Dennis has always been interested in dinosaurs and I could tell he was really excited that Teo embraced this project. We praised Teo for working so hard and diligently to get all the bones freed.
“What’s diligently mean?” he asked me.
“It means not giving up. You kept at it for a long time,” I replied.
“Yeah,” he nodded, “I did.”
This day became more memorable when, right around noon, Sienna was in the house eating a snack. She suddenly said to me: “I love days like this! When we’re all home with nothing we have to do.” I agreed with her and said a little prayer of thanksgiving for her observation and the joy of being a family. Not five minutes later, Teo ran inside and, before I could scold him for tracking plaster dust on the clean floor, jumped in the air and shouted “Best day, ever!”
Honestly, Teo says, “This is the best day, ever!” about once a week. He’s an optimistic little kid. But, the timing of both of their comments caused me to reflect on the simple things that make a child feel happy, safe, and fulfilled. They were just home, playing around the house. Nothing structured, no expensive activity was involved. They weren’t watching television; we’d had music playing for the past couple hours. We were just all at home, on a beautiful day, with time to follow our whims to play, take care of our home, relax, or, dig diligently for dinosaur bones.