What kids really, really want to do with you!
Mum-of-two Hannah Corbett takes note of her kids' true desires.
I looked up at the tightly packed rows of flashy toys at the local department store, and fell silent. Partly because half the contents of the nearest shelves were now on the floor as my child had been steadily pulling out a toy, playing with it for 30 seconds, before discarding it for another. As I watched him play, I wondered what I’d been thinking by coming here and looking at toys when my house was already full of them! Was a new toy what my kids really wanted from me? This led me to ask myself, what do they really, really want to do?
To take as long as they want
It’s perplexing, the length of time it actually takes for me to get anywhere while walking with children. There are stops to look at a stone on the ground, to observe people passing by, to check out a plant or to simply just practise a spontaneous twirl or dance move. Seriously! I just want to get to the next destination, which is actually only 10 metres away. Why does it have to take 10 minutes? What my children really want, though, is to take their time, to explore their environment, to say “Hi” to the world and to dance.
To crack an egg
My kids love to bake, but I did have to get over myself when I started baking with them. I had to learn - very quickly - that what they really wanted to do was to bake something entirely by themselves, without my guidance. They wanted to crack the egg themselves, not watch me do it; they wanted to mix and pour and measure every ingredient sans mummy. And it’s so worth the mess and mangled mixture to see the smiles on their faces. Besides, I can always make another batch by myself, if I need to.
To goof around
I get exasperated if my child just wants to fool around and play-hide-and-seek, or run around me in circles when he should be getting dressed. But, when time permits, I let him goof around (more than usual) because he loves it - and it lets off some energy meaning he’s a little easier to coax into his clothes. And, well, when it doesn’t, sometimes we just go all out and make it pyjama day!
To eat ten ice blocks
I had to laugh when I asked my five-year-old what he would do if he could do anything without mummy saying ‘No’. For some children it’s cake and for others, it may be lollies or chocolate. My child just loves ice blocks. Doing what they really, really want, may involve sugar, and more than what they are usually allowed, so just be ready for when the sugar low hits.
To just make a mess
I will never forget the day I took my children down to the playground for a quick run around. It had been raining, it was winter, and the ground was wet and muddy. I warned my boys to play only in the playground and not walk on the grass… then I saw three kids skid and roll down the hill next to us. They emerged covered in mud and with huge grins on their faces. I looked at them in horror and then saw a woman waiting for them by her car. Unlike me, she had a grin on her face, and as I watched, she rolled her eyes and then giggled as she put them in the car. ‘I want to be like her’, I thought (before dodging and hopping carefully over puddles to get my own children into the car).
Talk... in the 11th hour
I can spend all day with my children, quizzing them in the car about their thoughts and what they can see, or trying to spark up an informative talk at the table over dinner. But never do they want to talk as much as they do at bedtime. Just as I’m about to leave the room - that’s when the real conversation starts! Unfortunately, this is also usually the time when I’m looking forward to sitting down, turning on the TV and zoning out for some Me Time. However, taking the time to let them ‘get it all out’ when they need to at the 11th hour is usually what my children want from me.
Hannah Corbett is a writer and photographer who lives by the seaside in the north of Auckland, with her husband and two young boys.