If you are around kids in any capacity, you know there are toys of the moment that better not be lost, forgotten at Grandma’s, or broken, otherwise an apocalyptic type situation will explode in your household. My family has had anything from a stuffed bear, Lightning McQueen, a broken balloon, a Barbie, and a flashlight take a spot on the pedestal. Each toy of the moment never had anything in common with the one that came before it, except the love and admiration of one of my babies. I find as my kids age, they still have their toys that are special to them, but especially for my older boys it becomes less “life or death” if one of the toys turns up missing. Sometimes it is hard to remember my boys so little that they had toys they would grip at night like talismans. I always loved that I knew what would comfort them in their early years. Just like any phase of childhood, some of those toys got lost or forgotten by my children, but it’s just as fun when they rediscover them years later, fondly remembering their importance. When they rediscover them, they have a new importance, but my kids are still loyal to them.
This summer, I’ve gotten to spend a lot of time with my kids. My 12 and 9 year old sons are pretty independent, but I am still attached at the hip to my 6-year-old daughter. There are specific things my husband and I are working through with her like being independent in certain situations; being upstairs by herself; verbally requesting things from people; and responding appropriately when someone talks to her. Even with these lessons, I am still the one needed for morning and bedtime; for Barbies and dancing; for makeup and bath time; for meal times and book times. I am needed so much that I can feel my frustration building every once in awhile. Sometimes it feels like I am failing at making her independent, and her requests of me are reminders that I am failing in that endeavor.
And then, we had a week where a realization hit me. It happened when I signed my daughter up for volleyball camp and she had a swimming party with friends that same week. Both events meant my daughter would be without me. She can get pretty upset if I have to be absent at home for any length of time, but these were activities that she enjoys, so I thought it would be okay. On the first and second day of camp, she was grumpy about going. I said, “But you love volleyball. Why are you sad?” She replied in her sweet six-year-old voice, “I would just rather hang out with you, mama.” And that same week she told one of my friends that pools are way more fun with me there. My heart dropped and soared all at once. While I want her to be independent, I know her needing me like this is temporary. It wasn’t until this week of our summer break that I realized that right now, I, mommy, am the toy of the moment.
If I am missing right now, her world doesn’t work the way she likes it to work. If I am not the one to tuck her in at night, bedtimes aren’t what they should be, and if I am not with her during her different activities, right now, they aren’t as much fun. Trust me, I’m a high school teacher, so I know this is so temporary. That, combined with the love I have for my kids, has helped me to open my eyes. I am going to cherish this time in life when I am her toy of choice. I am going to try to help without sighing and teach without being too busy. This is my plan because I know this is short-lived especially when we roll into the teenage years and her natural rebellion begins. But I’m hoping, just as my boys did with their toys of choice, and I did with my mother, that she will rediscover me. I hope she needs me and we both have a new importance to each other. Being the toy of the moment is quite an honor, and I’m going to stay on this pedestal as long as she lets me.