These days it feels like we’re fitting our parenting into the spare moments, the in-betweens, the fleeting fringe of must-dos and don’t-dos.
We pried oursevles from home and headed out for ice cream. It’ll be a treat! But we just ended up a sticky mess, and a mama with a short temper. Not my best parenting moment.
We headed for the park, but less than a mile in the mosquitoes were just too much. 25 bites later, we were on our way home again.
It felt like a failure.
We went back to the park a few days later
“Where watering can go, Mama?” she asked as she glanced around the near-empty sandbox. “Where toys go?”
“I don’t know, baby. They broke, maybe.” This makes her frown. “Should we get some more? Bring them to the park so all the kids can play?”
We hunt in and out of stores, up and down the roads. It’s hard to find sand toys in late September. By the end of the week, we have a car full of discounted and clearanced sand toys.
“Go Windsorcastlepark,” she tells us (for her, it’s all one word).
“Should we leave the toys there for other kids to play with too?”
“Not two, three!” she informs me.
We lug the toys to the sandbox.
“Where the other kids?”
“Well, I guess they’re not here right now. Ready to share our toys?”
She helps us scatter them in the sandbox. A bucket here, a shovel there, a crab-shaped mold, a castle mold. They cover the sandbox in bright, summery colors.
“Do you want to play?”
“No. Go home.”
We shrug, and leave. It was a long trek out to the park for a five minute visit, but we’re teaching her generosity, right? Random acts of kindness. Like restocking the toys at the local park. We head home, because these lessons are learned in the quick hour between school and bedtime. It’s parenting in the moments, and it’s what we’ve got to work with right now.