Resistance is fertile

It’s a beautiful Spring Day and I haven’t quite motivated myself to begin the Spring Cleaning I mapped out yesterday. Something about finishing that second cup of coffee seems more of a priority.

I woke this morning to find the cable out. A mixed blessing. I’d love for the cable to go out in the middle of the afternoon so I can’t use Nick Jr. as my crutch, a means to keep the kids busy while I go about my chores in a less painful fashion. But first thing in the morning? I’m just not awake enough to answer the myriad questions my two little ones chuck at me, rapid-fire.

So I thought.

In an attempt at mindless fun – well, mindless to me, anyway – I broke out the Chutes and Ladders game from its perch high up in the closet. I’d love to make it more accessible to the kiddos, but we have a rottie-shepherd mix with a rather destructive tendency towards oral manipulation of all things Not His. Except shoes, but that’s another matter altogether.

Today’s game was a lesson in sportsmanship and patience. Big Red learned that you just can’t destroy the pieces when the game’s not moving fast enough. And J.J. learned that even when Mommy wins, she’s still on her team, cheering her on. Isn’t that just precious?

We then moved on to the next lesson in patience – this time, testing Mama’s as well. B.R. was given a Disney puzzle collection for Christmas, and we haven’t really had much opportunity to work on the puzzles. Last week, we made a family affair out of piecing together Finding Nemo. There were two adults and one child working on it then, so it was fairly peaceful and simple.

Today, not so much. Two children and one adult. Not quite the same balance. J.J. fully accepted the concept of finding and putting together all the edge pieces first. B.R. immediately recognized all the pieces that belonged together and wanted to put them together right away. Mama was conflicted.

It’s always been my intention to let the little guys do things their own way, make their own rules as they go along. As they’ve grown, however, I’ve realized two things. 1)I’m a stickler for order: I like to know my place in things, I like to know exactly how to go about what I’m doing. And, 2)Following directions is a necessary skill for everyone, and games and puzzles are an excellent way to practice said skill. Not that one should always blindly follow directions – I feel like I do a pretty decent job of encouraging the kids to find alternate solutions whenever possible – but there are certain situations in which a certain sequence of steps must be followed to achieve the best outcome possible. First aid comes to mind. De-escalating a conflict is another. Basic day-to-day tasks, such as cleaning: you don’t want to sweep the floors before you wipe off the counters, or you’ll end up sweeping twice.

At the same time, not following directions as they’re laid out before them teaches my children to exercise creative problem solving, to think for themselves. And it’s more fun that way.

I think I struck a balance. I insisted, for simplicity’s sake, that we do the edges first. But I had the kids take turns deciding which edge they were going to work on. Then when it came time to flesh out the puzzle’s interior, they each chose the aspects they were going to work on. Once we got to the innards, B.R. was ready to go to town. He knew exactly which pieces were going to go where. He was able to use his spatial reasoning skills in the way that worked best for him. My daughter, being younger, needed a little more coaching, and so my role with her was a bit more involved.

Then, a quarter of the way through the puzzle, the cable came back on. Go figure.

Today is Easter. I’m a pagan, and my kids celebrate the Sabbats with me. Ostara was on Tuesday, and we didn’t really celebrate. Time slipped away, as it often does when one is mothering small ones. But today is a beautiful day. And the Spring Cleaning seems a perfect way to celebrate.

No egg hunt for us. Eggs as a symbol of fertility have been co-opted by the masses to represent chocolate and gluttony (which, I admit, I’m a sucker for). Probably no gardening either, as we live in an apartment and have no yard, and container gardening turns my green thumb black. I’d thought about taking some tea lights down to the river and floating them away with our wishes for Spring, to honor an old Springtime celebration – but that doesn’t seem very friendly to our already-sick river.

Ostara is all about celebrating fertility and growth. I think today, with all my limitations, I will focus on growing my babies and celebrate their ever-expanding brains.

Today, we’ll turn off that T.V. and finish the puzzle. And Spring Cleaning? They love to help.

(After all, if we’re going to hunt for anything, wouldn’t dust bunnies be appropriate for the day?)

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