Today we had a snow day – but not the typical version that most people have. There were no snow angels, no sledding, no hot chocolate. We did not even make it outside and while this fact used to drive me crazy, I have come to accept that just because it is called a snow day doesn’t mean we are going to actually be in the snow. With our little guy, the battle of snow suits and boots and hats and gloves and the cold just don’t really seem worth the upset and while there was a time when we would have pushed and pushed to make those picture perfect memories take place, it seems we have started to realize that there is no one version of how things should be and many times it’s finding the things that Charlie thinks are fun that turn into our best moments.
Okay so I have a confession to make, I am a pinterest addict. I just adore the fact that I can find pretty much anything I am looking for all in one place and while most of my pinterest boards go unused I do enjoy browsing for ideas. I have a board dedicated to my son Charlie. By this I mean that I am always looking for new and fun ideas, games, and activities for us to try out. I especially hunt for any ideas about what to do when stuck inside all day long due to bad weather or activities that would appeal to Charlie’s specific needs such as sensory playing and energy busting games. Based on my addiction it may seem like I am in fact a pinterest pro and therefore quite skilled at this whole creative mom thing but the truth is that 99.9% of my pinterest efforts wind up as a laughable fail. I am not crafty, I am not artistic and quite frankly I get bored too easily to actually follow the directions perfectly. My very first pinterest attempt was about 2 years ago on a hot summer day. I was taking the day off to spend with Charlie and decided to make my own play dough/slime creation. While Charlie napped, I made the concotion complete with green food die as directed. I set up the materials and buckets of water on the deck and waited patiently for Charlie to wake up from his nap so we could go have an awesome time. The actual playtime on the deck lasted about 7 minutes during which both Charlie and I wound up covered in water, soap and this green slime stuff I had made earlier. I wouldn’t say we didn’t have fun but my dreams of having a full hour of activity ended quickly when I realized Char was more interested in trying to eat the stuff than actually play with it. So I hauled him up to the bathtub to wash away the remnants of our day and you can imagine my dismay when it would not wash off! My 1 year old was green! His face was covered in green and my hands were glowing green (did I mention the wedding I had the following day). After about 30 minutes of scrubbing I began to panic – I called my mother in law who cracked up at my predicament and texted a few artsy friends who I thought might have a suggestion of how to remove the green. No luck. Green baby – check, green hands for the wedding, check. Pinterest fail – check, check.
We still laugh about that ridiculous day and have the green face baby pictures to prove it. But I don’t give up easily and this was certainly not my only attempt at being a fun, crafty mom. I cannot begin to recall all of the activities and games I have experimented with since that fateful day – most have not been very successful but there have been a few wins. The shaving cream car wash is a big hit in our house and we usually enjoy a glowstick bathtub party once a week. For the few successes, I have had so many fails more so because Charlie just isn’t interested in whatever activity or game I have put together. I admit to being frustrated at times because all of these toddler ideas seem to work for most people and my child rarely seems interested in anything that isn’t related to the TV, Mickey Mouse or Spaceships (note….that is a list of current obsessions which will most likely last about 1 more month until the next big thing strikes).
Whenever I know its going to be a bad weather weekend or I am going to be stuck in the house with both kids for a full day I go into panic mode thinking about how I am going to keep Charlie occupied ALL DAY long without giving in and letting the TV play babysitter. Days like today usually create a feeling of dread about what may happen and hoping it’s not an “off day” for Charlie. Knowing we would most likely have a snow day today I stayed up to the wee hours of the morning obsessively researching things for us to do. Yes, I hoped and prayed we would be able to go outside and actually play in the snow, do some sledding, build a snowman but our reality doesn’t entail those snow day activities. At the moment, Charlie is really into rockets and space ships and the moon and mars. We have a collection of spaceships and most of our playtime entails countdowns and blast offs. So today, while Charlie was napping I decided to make my very own pinterest moment. I probably should have been folding laundry or doing the dishes or cleaning out our basement but I spent my free hour and a half collecting random items and creating my version of space for us to play.
I had fun and I was excited for Charlie to wake up so I could see his reaction. I know from experience that there was a very good chance that he would not be impressed and all of my efforts would be for nothing but I simply cannot help myself from at least trying to engage him. And you know something…..this time it worked! He absolutely loved it and we played in our own space world for almost 3 hours without any requests for TV, without any tantrums or head banging and man was it a great time. Even the baby got in on the action and was playing in our make believe world, laughing along with Charlie and having fun. There is nothing like seeing Charlie’s eyes light up, seeing his imagination at work and feeling so connected and not removed from his world. He did not care about the mish mosh of my efforts or the fact that the tape kept loosening and pieces were falling off the walls. He did not care that it was not beautiful or perfect or that Saturn was missing the ring or that the Moon was my exercise ball. He had fun, he played hard, he thanked me, he kissed me and that was really the only thing that mattered.
Was it the typical snow day, nope not even close. Do I have pictures of my kid making snow angels or the family sledding at the local hill, definitely not. Does this bother me? Not even a a little bit. Today was a great day and snow or not, we made some wonderful memories. Next time we get the call for snow and the school closing I won’t feel quite so worried about what to do. It may be space, it will probably be something entirely different but in the end it really doesn’t matter. Paying attention to what makes my child happy, what makes him engage, what is fun for him is so much more important and frankly way more enjoyable than worrying about having the perfect “snow day” could ever be.