Sitting in the chair in my bedroom is often where I’ll retreat to read. Now that I’m exclusively working from home, it’s where I’ll go to work when the rest of the family is using the living room. During this quarantine, I’ve discovered a new activity to participate in from my cozy reading corner: watching the kids play together. Last week they created an elaborate story where they were shepherds; the lamb stuffed animals and large stick (which I assume was a staff) gave it away.
Since they’ve been at Cambridge, Sienna often makes up stories where she reenacts historical eras. Last year she was constantly pretending to be medieval characters. This year she (and her little brother who will pretty much play anything she tells him to) frequently pretend to be colonists. As she’s been re-reading many of the Laura Ingalls Wilder books recently, they have also created frontier story-lines. When they gather up dolls, stuffed animals, blankets, and assorted home goods and head to the backyard, you can pretty much bet they’ll be involved in their make-believe world for a few hours.
When I crack open the sliding glass door in our bedroom, I’ll catch some of their dialogue. I always grin to myself when I hear them start a sentence with, “Why don’t we pretend that…” or “Okay, now you…” as their imaginative world unfolds. If you ask Teo, he’ll say he doesn’t have much of an imagination because he’s comparing himself to Sienna. Her imagination is truly remarkable and she often initiates the story-line of their games. But, I have seen him engage and contribute more as he’s gotten older and more confident.
When conflict arises (I mean, they’re siblings, it has to happen), Sienna typically prevails as Teo will relent because he just wants to play with her so much. But, I’ve even seen that start to balance out a bit more, especially now that we’re quarantined. If Sienna takes a stand and Teo decides to go play something else, she’s without a playmate! They’ve both made reconciliation attempts more quickly in this safer-at-home environment.
I’ve also enjoyed watching them individually during this long period of cozy time at home. Yesterday, while on the phone with my sister for a couple hours, I watched Teo kicking soccer goals in the backyard. One of the zip-ties broke and the goal target panel started to gape on one side. He concentrated on trying to fix the zip-tie for several minutes. I considered going to help him, but then I remembered something I’d read years ago about mothers and sons. Boys need to be able to figure things out themselves, it does a lot for their confidence and self-concept. So, I watched and waited to see if he either figured it out, gave up, or sought help. He stuck with it for a long time. Way longer than I would have! But, eventually he went and found Dennis and they decided to remove the goal targets from the goal.
Sienna has been working on a painting for the past week, as they’ve been on spring break. She sets up at the patio table which is under a gazebo, so she has been painting rain or shine. One afternoon I watched her paint as she narrated a story. I couldn’t hear her, but I assume she was either pretending to be an important painter, or narrating a story of Peter Pan, Wendy, John and Michael, since they are the subject of her painting. Watching her lost in a story of her own making brings me such joy!
Right now, I’m sitting in my bedroom chair working on my computer and watching Sienna, Mateo and Dennis play football. Currently, Sienna is quarterback and throwing the ball to the guys while they take turns defending against each other. Dennis does not take it easy on Teo! They play hard and crash into the turf frequently. One end of our yard has a built in fire pit made of stone pavers. I cringe when I watch Teo jump for balls just inches away from the bricks! But, he’s pretty sure-footed and hasn’t injured himself yet, so I say little prayers of protection and try to only occasionally shout reminders to be careful.
This time of quarantine has brought a lot of special moments of connection to our lives. Slowing way down allows for the time and space to linger in conversation and let days unfold gently and calmly. Watching my kids play, learn, giggle, grow, try new things, fight, reconcile, and explore the world has been my new favorite pastime. Like just now, Sienna spiked a football for probably the first time in her life. The look of exhilaration on her face was priceless! I’m so grateful I was there to see it.