I was making dinner tonight when one of the ducklings had an idea. "Daddy," said Duckling #1 "Let's play a game. We want you to be a friendly dragon that we trained. And you live with us. And we taught you to cook. And you're friendly but in a cranky sort of way. And your name is Matt." Yup, Matt the friendly but slightly cranky dragon that cooks. That's me.
I wasn't sure I wanted to pretend to be a dragon. Certainly not one named Matt. And why are my kids making ME the cranky dragon? Couldn't I be the cool dragon. Why cranky? I could feel myself getting slightly cranky about being asked to pretend to be a slightly cranky dragon. Ahoy there, irony!
But the ducklings weren't fussing at me. They weren't whining or complaining. They wanted to engage and have some fun. OK, I can do that. So for 30 minutes tonight I pretended to be Matt the slightly cranking dragon who was cooking egg fried rice for dinner. It was great. We had a lot of fun, and we enjoyed a much calmer and more enjoyable, albeit sillier, dinner than we had in a while.
Sometimes being present to our kids means being willing to be silly. Sure, there's a time and a place, but there are far more times and places where it's OK to be silly with our kids than not. So what holds us back? Are we distracted? Too tired? Self conscious? (adults aren't supposed to be silly!) Whatever the reason, how can we overcome those roadblocks and be present to our children in the way that they're asking us to be?
When we enter into the imaginary worlds our kids create, it shows them that we are willing to meet them where they are. We're willing to get down on the floor with them (figuratively or literally) and share in their delight.
This week, find an opportunity to join with our kids, even if it means being silly.