THE NEW DOMESTICITY
The Happiest Hour
By Julianna Lawson
“I want to hear the fishy song again,” Elijah grinned. We reconfigured the goldfish crackers on the table and repeated our silly little song: “Five little fishies swimming near the shore, one swam away . . . and then there were four!” Accordingly, the fishies mysteriously disappeared, one by one. As silly as the song was, it was a sweet moment shared with a preschool-aged friend. It also served as a reminder that kids don’t require much to be entertained! Five goldfish and my wobbly voice certainly don’t add up to a lot . . . but the focused attention an adult gives to a child is invaluable. Humans crave that connection, that understanding that this very moment, these very people, are worthy of attention. Louisa May Alcott highlights this in “Little Women.” As “Marmee” comes home and gathers her daughters about her, we read, “Mrs. March got her wet things off, her warm slippers on, and sitting down in the easy chair, drew Amy to her lap, preparing to enjoy the happiest hour of her busy day.”
This month, let’s tend to our children’s minds, bodies, and hearts, showing them that, even if their voices aren’t particularly “soft and sweet,” we still think an hour spent with them is a happy one, indeed.
Mind One natural way to engage a child’s mind is by reading together. I have a friend who delights in sharing weekly tea times with her boys. She carefully selects diverting children’s poetry books that will stimulate conversation . . . and strategically last as long as the snacks on the table! I love this blend of intentionality that reaches children’s minds and bodies, too. A trip to the grocery store can be very instructional. Involve your child in decision-making, inviting him to help select apples, perhaps guessing how much they will weigh. Allow your child to put items in the cart, carefully crafting decisions to strengthen her mind: “You may choose one cereal today. Would you like this one, or this one?”
We don’t often equate “the happiest hour” with a lapful of noisy children. But what if we could? What if we were to train our minds and hearts to welcome the “interruption” of children as an opportunity to step into their little-but-significant worlds, thereby gaining entrance into their minds and hearts? What if, like Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, we might welcome “The Children’s Hour” with delight?
I hear in the chamber above me The patter of little feet, The sound of a door that is opened, And voices soft and sweet.
There are many food-related ways to nourish a child’s body. Another friend recently described the indoor picnics she used to share with her children on particularly cold days. She’d position a quilt in front of the heater and pour hot chocolate for a sweet
There are many opportunities to guide our children in strengthening their bodies. Why not join them on the playground equipment from time to time? On indoor days, set up “stepping stones” throughout the house. Turn on music and hop from one “stone” to the next. (Stones may be made of paper, cardboard, or pillow cases.) Lively kiddos will enjoy turning these stones into lava rocks, of course!
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Vancouver Family Magazine • www.vancouverfamilymagazine.com • March 2019
The magazine for Southwest Washington families.