I'm going to admit to you that there are still times that I get anxious about what I'm going to "do" with my children. I mean that in the most literal sense. We get home from school, I make lunches, coffee for the morning, and dinner, we eat, and then two hours stretch out before bathtime and then bedtime. When the weather is nice and the sky is light, life is easy. I just scoot them outside while I clean up, and then join them. Or Eric gets home and kicks the soccer ball around.
But it's dark early, early now, and those two hours have to be dealt with. Anxiety. This anxiety is a hold-over from when they were toddlers and I was trapped in the house playing the same boring games over and over again. I know this is a horrible thing for a mother to say, but I found their toddlerhoods among the most difficult times of my life. I'm traumatized from the boredom, still. Remnants of that trauma resurface in moments of unfilled space.
I'm very unenlightened and pitiful. Be glad I'm not your mother. Tsk tsk.
Luckily, they're older now, and I like these particular ages much, much better. Usually those two evening hours take care of themselves. The girls and I sit at the table for family drawing (thank you SouleMama), or we do puzzles, or Eric plays Uno with them and I sneak off to check Facebook and try to make up pithy status updates (there is an art to that, I tell you, and I haven't mastered it yet. My high school friends the Drabinskis are masters. It's intimidating).
Other times, though, the kids sprawl across the dinner table moaning, "I don't know what I'm supposed to do right now, Mama!" And that familiar anxiety resurfaces.
But, saved by a field trip. Addie's class went to the Denver puppet theater today and she came home with a handmade construction paper "puppet" taped to a straw. And we decided that in the dreaded two hours we'd make our own puppet theater and puppets. We hacked up and painted an old box:
And tomorrow morning, when it's dry, we'll have the puppet show.
I know better than to invest too much in these projects, and the outcome was far from amazing. We're not making it into any craft books any time soon. But it was fun. The girls had a blast. And, most importantly, it's bathtime.
Here's my favorite puppet, from my six-year-old in the gifted and talented:
Please don't notice how much wine is gone from that bottle in the background.