Rainy Day Play-Do.

Mom, what is the most recent FUN memory your children have with you?  Not when did you have fun with them (after all, tucking them in some nights is fun!) but when did they have fun with YOU?
The “Parisienne Farmgirl” enigma covers all aspects of my life.  (If you are a new reader, what I mean is the wide contrasts in my personality and interests).  I am a creature of routine and order.  I am also someone who loves spontaneity and craziness.  Both I think are well suited to motherhood.  Children thrive on routine and I believe they function better in an orderly environment over chaos but they also need the freedom to be crazy!  I don’t mean swinging from the crystal chandeliers on a fruit role up induced sugar buzz.  Moms, they need to see us be crazy and spontaneous.
Around here we try to mix Mom’s obsession with a clean house and picked up toys with a healthy dose of “Friday Night Dance Parties”  – this is when we let Aidan stay up “late”  and make a pizza with Momma and  we turn on Pandora.com and dance around the kitchen.  Would I rather throw him in bed at 7pm after a long week?  Sure, but occasionally you’ve got to make a memory.
I imagine it means more than we know for children to see their parents simply relax and shake off the “shoulds” every-once-in-awhile.  When we went on vacation (TWO YEARS AGO) I realized that Aidan had probably never seen us so relaxed.  I realized what a bloody shame that was.
How many times a day do I say to my kids, “Come on”  “Hurry up”  “Let’s go” – all with the routine and “shoulds” of the day.  And we keep a VERY low schedule but sometimes I hear my own voice and think, “Why don’t you back off a little?”  
What does a child care how fast he puts his shoes on?  He has a lifetime to care about that.  And why in the world is it so important to me?  Is that extra 15 seconds going to ruin my day?  Surely if it is than the problem is with my household and time management.  
Do you know how much we can bless their day when we just relax and chose to cherish the moments of helping put shoes on?  What an opportunity to be tender when we slowly practice making a bed together?  ‘Look into their eyes and savor the little mug that we are cleaning with a washcloth instead of trying to do it as fast as we can?  There is a time and a place and a reason to teach order and timeliness but our children will have a lifetime to be rushed and feel the healthy weight of responsiblity. Our home should be a relaxing and comforting for them as we want it to be for ourselves.
Our Mom routine, our desire to keep the floors clean 24 hours a day to tuck the kids in but not before my sink is scoured – these are all noble things.  I think homemaking and keeping the house tidy is a very important aspect of a family’s sanity.  Organization and cleanliness are things that make our house run like a well oiled machine.  But, would it be so bad to go straight to the playroom after dinner?  Would it be so bad to jump up from the table and shout, “Race you around the block!” ?  
Heaven forbid that the times when I set my agenda aside to the delight of my kids are only few and far between.
 I remember the night my Dad made popcorn on the living room floor with NO LID!  I am sure popcorn grease was not in the original design of my Mom’s perfect Mary Emmerling country living room but it sure was fun! … An even more special memory – the night he drove my friend and I home from the farm and once the conversation turned to Princess Diana’s birthday being that very day he grabbed his gigantic, mounted, prehistoric “car phone” and to our delight called Buckingham Palace and let us speak to the operator who took our message to wish her a happy birthday!!!  Can you imagine how much that must have cost him???  But it was unplanned, it was spontaneous and it was ridiculous.  (It was in that spirit that I coordinated meeting my beloved Princess years later!!!)
A lifetime ago I nannied for a little boy who came from the perfect house.  Organized and proper.  One perfect summer day a warm rain began to fall as we drove home from an errand to which I exclaimed, “Quick!  Role down your window and put your arm out and feel that lovely rain!”  The little guy no more than four years old had to be convinced to put his arm out and let it get wet.  “My Mom would never do that.” he said.  Now, this little boy had a very, very good Mom.  But why should a little rain water be so outlandish?  Should we not teach our kids the joy of a summer rain falling on our skin over the importance of the dryness of our cars interior???
A lifetime later Joel and I (pregnant) and Aidan were on a walk around the block with snarly gray clouds above when all watery hell broke loose. I have never been outside before or since during such sheets of rain.  There was no thunder or danger so Aidan and I took our time getting home and getting properly SOAKED!  And once we got home we played on the porch for a half an hour.  Did the kitchen floor get trashed full of mud drop and sticky wet pine needles?  Did we have to peel off soggy clothes?  Of course, but that was close to two years ago and Aidan still remembers, “that time we played in the rain.”
No one likes a clean house as much as I do or peace and quiet after a long day but it’s not all about me is it?  My kids need to freak out, jump around, get dirty and splash in the mud.  After all, what does it REALLY MATTER if they make a mud puddle with the hose?  Would I rather them in the house watching “Dora the Explorer”? Would I rather that they grown up to be adults that can not function on a spontaneous basis?  Thankfully, they don’t even know who Dora is.
It was in the spirit of setting my own agenda and desires for an immaculate maison aside that  I decided to bust out the cream of tarter and food coloring for a little homemade play-dough during one rainy morning this past week.  Even though my kitchen was clean and “my list” was long.
And oh, you should have seen my kitchen floor an hour later!!!!!  
Here is the recipe for the next time you are feeling a little adventurous and let’s all encourage each other to remember my funny and “inappropriate” advice:
“Be sure to pick up all your quarters.  Be sure to drop a few every now and again too.”

1 Cup flour
1/2 cup salt
2 tbsp cream of tartar (for my second batch I only had one tablespoon left so I subbed the second with a tablespoon of lemon juice and it worked OK)
1 tbsp oil
1 Cup water

Combine ingrediants in a pot and heat over medium high heat (adding food coloring before heat)  Cook until it reaches a claylike consistency.  If it’s a little dry upon cooling add a little oil and knead it in. 

Home made Play-Dough last for months if kept in a zip lock bag.