Last night I was in the kitchen cooking myself a little supper and minding my own business when, out of nowhere, my four-year-old son, Coell, came flying down our hardwood-floored hallway in his sock feet, almost crashing into the island in our kitchen, and stopped. He had a very serious look on his face, but I still had to control myself to keep from busting out laughing and deflate his delicate little ego. You see, his attire was rather comical, and somewhat impressive in the creativity category given his age, but he was all business. He was shirtless, and unlike the super hero he was portraying, lacked a six pack of abs. He had a black cape tied around his neck and Under Armour sweat bands around both wrists. His socks were bright blue baseball socks, and he proudly donned a blue Captain America mask. The boy meant business.
I was under attack. He said, “Excuse me, ma’am. I’m here to wrestle you. So put ’em up!”
At least he was polite about it, right?
“No, buddy, not right now. Mama’s cooking supper. Maybe after while.”
He shrugged his little super hero shoulders and went back into the living room, waiting on a better moment to attack. As he was walking away, I heard him utter his new favorite phrase, “You’re killin’ me, Smalls.” (Thanks, a lot, Sandlot)
Not long after, my husband, Clay, got home. He was standing in the kitchen talking to me when Coell came busting through again, this time without hesitation, and slugged Clay right in the gut. I couldn’t contain my laughter this time, and it didn’t take long for an all-out brawl to unleash right in the middle of my kitchen. Coell didn’t hold back, either. He was throwing out some ninja kicks, wrestling moves, and UFC style holds. Clay was overly dramatizing the whole thing as he went, moaning and groaning and pretending to get knocked out after every kick. It was hilarious.
And it was fun.
Laying in bed that night and reflecting on the chaos in the kitchen from earlier made me realize something: I’m not the fun parent. I’m not jealous or pouting or anything, I’ve just realized that when I told my son that I was too busy to play, he didn’t even act surprised.
I was suddenly overcome with regret. It took a grand total of two minutes for Clay to wrestle with Coell, and it will take a lifetime to forget how much fun he had with his Daddy in the kitchen that night. I learned a valuable lesson from my husband: give them your time and you’ll never regret it. How many times have I turned down opportunities for play time? How many times have I made something else a priority over spending time with my little guy?
Raising toddlers is stressful. It’s exhausting, time-consuming, and sometimes downright painful. But it can be fun, if you’ll let it be. I wasn’t doing anything important. I could have stepped away from the oven for two minutes. I could have “wrestled” with my four year old, and it probably would have ended up in a big bear hug that I would cherish forever. But I let the opportunity pass me by, at the time, without a second thought. He won’t be four for long. He won’t always be coming to me and asking to spend time with me, no matter how briefly that time may be.
My husband is a wonderful father, and I love and appreciate him every day. Yesterday he taught me that raising toddlers can be enjoyable, and I need to loosen up and seize the moment more often. He taught me that a sense of humor and being playful can mean the world to a little one. He taught me all of this by example, and I love him for that.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, there’s a bank robbery about to happen in the living room, and my one and a half year old is being held hostage. Wish me luck!