How We Can Turn the Mundane with Our Children into Special Memories for All
Sunday mornings are cherished time with my two-year-old daughter, Bailey. She wakes me between 6 a.m. and 7 a.m. with a sweet sounding, “Good Morning, Mommy” which actually sounds more like “Goo moaning, Mommy.” I pick her up, closing the door so that Daddy can sleep in and we walk down the stairs together counting each step which we punctuate with a kiss and a “Muah!”
As I change her diaper, I ask her if she remembers her dreams and she tells me elaborate stories, rich with colorful details of adventure. Once clean and dry we head to the kitchen and each fill a glass of water and toast—clinking our glasses with a “Cheers!” to start off our day as a celebration of life.
We share an apple and act out silly faces in-between bites to make each other laugh. When our mini breakfast is over we change into our “play clothes” and put on our favorite Latin dance DVD to do our morning exercises with. After our workout we drink more water and then like the elephants in The Jungle Book, we march 2, 3, 4 back to the kitchen to make pancakes from scratch. My daughter has anaphylactic food allergies so just about everything we eat is made from scratch.
Even though there are a thousand things I’d rather do than cook, baking with my daughter is a great joy for both of us. We especially like the part when we put powdered cosmetics on each other’s nose and cheeks with our dry mixture of mostly flour and sugar. After our edible makeovers we add the wet ingredients to the dry and stir to the rhythm of our favorite song, currently “Nala the Chihuahua” by The Squeeges. This is also the most requested song in the car. Bailey vehemently calls for “Jlo, a wa, wa,” which we know to be “Nala the Chihuahua.”
Once the batter is ready, I move the chair she was standing on to mix ingredients, over near (but not close enough to touch) the stove to cook them. Bailey climbs up carefully to watch me put the batter into the pan. I don’t make cute faces or mouse ears, just traditional circles which Bailey simply calls, cakes. Once the cakes are done and cooling off, Bailey sets her table with her own dishes and utensils (in just the right size for her, thanks to Ikea), which she takes from her very own cupboard that is low enough for her to reach. I pull a grown up chair to her kiddie table and eat with her there.
We like to dress up for meals so we put on our boas, hats, and sunglasses before sitting at our table. We enjoy our cakes with our pinkies out and say, “Umm delicious!” and “Oh, so scrumptious!” after each bite. Sometimes we watch VH1’s Top 20 Countdown because apparently MTV is no longer music television. If a particular song comes on that Bailey really loves we will spontaneously abandon our food to take a dance break in the middle of eating. After our fancy feet breakfast we rinse off our dishes and unload and reload the dishwasher together.
Now it’s story time. Currently we alternate between reading a Fancy Nancy book or The Adventures of Pippi Longstalkings. (It should be no surprise that these are the books that hold my daughter’s interest most.) However, it is nearly impossible to read unless we are in the comfort of a fairy fort. How to make a fairy fort: take one blanket and drape it over either the dining room table, two chairs about 6 to 10 feet apart or simply over your head and the head of your child. Once inside our cozy cavern we begin to read. Every once in awhile a fairy will fly by. How to invite fairies into your home: one of mommy’s hands will become a fairy shadow puppet on the outside of the blanket.
After reading a chapter, Daddy usually comes down and joins us for a family snuggle fest and Mommy and Bailey’s special time evolves into special family time.
Through routine acts, treasured memories are being formed and self-reliance is also being taught: how to cook, clean, exercise, read, dress up, and have fun. It all starts with a conscious choice to allow our children to set the stage upon which we can also play.