Thursday, March 3, 2011
Building and Rebuilding
I am not crafty, let's just be honest about that. I think after 37 years on this planet it's the least I can do in the name of self-awareness. Pots of glue, boxes of crayons, new sets of markers... I buy them, and then have no idea what to do with them. When I hear "craft" used as a verb I want to throw up a little bit. A mere trip to Michael's is enough to bring back painful memories of 6th grade art class and as a result, break out in hives. I've tried scrapbooking, stamping, painting classes and here's the unsweetened truth: I stink at them.
I'm trying very hard not to pass on my craftophobia to my children and to instead encourage their budding creative spirits. They both love to color, draw, paint, and squish Play Doh into whatever crevices they can find, and I think that's wonderful. I will happily set them up with their (gulp!) craft of choice and let the mess... er... magic happen. It's just not something I participate in. Which is all fine and good, but sometimes we need to do something together.
The last few weeks it's felt like one of the few things we've done together is bicker. My 3.5 year old son has been bent on asserting his independence. Loudly. My 1.5 year old daughter has been asserting her throwing arm. Now 25 weeks pregnant, my hormones have been asserting their domination over my life. Throw in a few snowstorms, stuffy noses and long nights at work and you've got the recipe for Frustrated Family.
So that's why I got out the blocks. They've been sitting on the shelf for the past few weeks, ignored in favor of other toys, as often happens with kids' varying preferences. But whether they are Mega Bloks, Legos or no name generic blocks, Noah loves to build towers, forts, houses, towns, you name it, and his sister loves to knock them down. And I've always found something therapeutic in the snapping and unsnapping of colorful plastic pieces. I didn't do much of it as a child, as I was afraid to compete (and fail yet again) against my Lego-obsessed champion builder of a big brother. Now, though I may curse the errant piece that impales the sole of my foot at 5:30am, I do find some strange comfort in those big bins of blocks.
We'd been getting on each other's nerves all morning and the mood was still tense as we plunked down on the playroom floor. Ceci was content to repeatedly make and unmake her stack of blocks, while Noah and I worked together on a garage for his fire truck. The tension was still evident as he dumped out the bin and I began snapping pieces a little too forcefully.
But then we both reached for the same piece at the same time. I smiled as our hands connected, his tiny smooth palm intertwined with mine. The smile became a giggle, the giggle turned into a laugh, which then turned into a 5-minute ticklefest that left us both out of breath. And then, with the fog lifted and our hearts happy, we got back to the business of blocks.
As I cleaned up the playroom that night I turned those pieces over in my hand and mentally ran through the day. And I said a silent prayer we would always work together to rebuild what might seem broken.