I used to love the swings when I was little, probably as much as my daughter loves them now. And the monkey bars and the slide, too. But I hadn't actually used them recently; I was too attached to our usual playground routine of the last couple years. We'd arrive at the playground, and Sunshine and I would go off in different directions -- I to the mom-occupied benches for chit-chat and observation, and Sunshine off to find friends old and new. It was fine. It was fun.
A few weeks ago, however, Sunshine asked me to swing with her. I misunderstood at first. "Sure," I said, "I'll push you for a bit."
"No," she said, "Swing with me. Swing on the swing next to me.""Why not?" I thought. I left the other moms to swing. It was a blast.Sunshine and I ended up playing together on the playground for the next hour. There was much laughing and silliness. When it was finally time to go, Sunshine put her arms around me and said, "Mommy, I love you so much. That was really fun." Aw.I realized that by letting go of our usual albeit fine routine, we'd had an unexpectedly special bonding time. I suspect my daughter will remember that afternoon for a long time. I know I will.
Routines are great. They help us get things done, set a pace for the day, help the kids manage expectations and so on. Sometimes we get too attached to the routine, however, and we need to break free. Allowing myself to get down to my daughter's level at the playground and experience a bit of childhood again was wonderful for both of us. It made a fine day really good, gave us some precious mommy/child time, and freed some of that inner childhood joy I'd forgotten I still had.
Going to the playground for our usual routine still has its place. Sunshine needs to run around, and I still enjoy talking to the other moms. But breaking the routine every now and again to do the unexpected most definitely has a place, too. So go to the playground and swing, slide and hang upside-down like you are a little kid again. Your inner child is waiting.
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