Last night I was reminded of something I thought I'd learned a long time ago. Some lessons take the first time. Some don't. This one needs reminding every so often because I forget.
First of all, Thursdays are long days for us. Michael has a chorus practice after school and worship band practice in the evening. In between those, he usually comes home for dinner. He's only here for two hours or less but it helps to break up the long day a little. Yesterday, though, he had to practice a song for Mother's Day with two other guys and they could only meet during our precious two hour window. And so our normally long day became an unusually long day. (Both for us and for him.)
Brenna and I have been...shall we say, struggling?...a bit lately. She's been a bit defiant and has even taken to intentionally doing some things she knows are wrong. She goes through these phases about every 6-8 months. She's just checking to see if the rules have changed and to find out what she can get away with. So rather than spend the entire day at our house, racking my brain for things to do (and staring at all the housework I should be doing), I took the kids to my parents house about 2 0'clock.
I settled them down for naps, watched a little Food Channel, read a couple chapters, got them up from nap, and started on dinner. It was a nice, easy afternoon. (Other than the fact that Daniel was determined to open all the cupboards and pull mom's cookbooks off the shelf and steal the emergency nightlight and drag out the magazines and discover electrical sockets and...)
After dinner we all went outside, and here's where I was reminded of this oh-so-important lesson. My dad was washing his new truck, so I decided to wash my car too. Brenna was playing with a soccer ball in the yard and I pretended to squirt her with the hose. She ran away laughing and it reminded me of when she'd just learned to walk. Michael and I would sit on the front porch with the garden hose and spray the water, while she ran and laughed and begged for more. At the time we had one of those nozzles with a bunch of different spray options. We used them all. It was timeless fun.
I couldn't resist a little squirt for memory's sake so I arched the water in the air and she ran through the 'rainbow'. And then she ran through again. And then she ran further away and dared me to spray her. I discovered the misting position on the nozzle and she came closer, giggling with anticipation. Then I arched the water high in the air and again and again she ran and laughed and eventually ended up completely soaked. She stopped in the middle of the yard with her pink skirt completely pasted to her legs, turned her hands out and shouted, "JUST LOOK AT ME!" She wasn't sure whether to be mad she was all wet or collapse in another fit of giggles. One grin from me and the giggles overtook her. Her shoes were waterlogged and her hair was dripping, but she and I had made more memories.
The thing is, I keep forgetting how important just playing with her is. How important one on one time doing just about anything is. It's easy to start her on a project or the computer and just walk away. Daniel needs more attention than she does. Sometimes my priorities get a little out of whack and I end up making sure they are both occupied so I can do what I want to do.
The lesson that doesn't stick and has to be relearned all the time is that Brenna and I get along so much better when I take the time to do fun things with her. Just her. There's a certain mother-daughter bond that I must remember to cultivate. When I start to get lazy, she starts acting up...likely in demand of my attention.
I should've known we were headed down that path when we were at the dentist's office last week. As we were packing up to go she said, "Mommy, why's everybody always bragging on Daniel?" That's little girl speak for "I need a little attention too."
Well ... Lesson learned. At least reminded for now. Maybe the reminders will need to be fewer and farther between.