From Chicken Soup for the Mother of Preschooler's Soul

Taking Account

“It’s starting to sprinkle, Annika. Let’s go in,” I said, preparing myself for a barrage of objections at disrupting her backyard playtime.

The sky darkened, but the disappointed look on my four-year-old’s face dissolved into one of revelation. She turned to me with her rosy, plump cheeks and pleading blue eyes and squealed, “No, Mom. Let’s go up in my playhouse to get out of the rain! Please?”

Now, keep in mind this is a child’s playhouse— definitely not a structure made for adults, never mind a five-feet-ten thirty-five-year-old. Five narrow ladder rungs lead to a four-foot-square wooden platform covered by a roof, a low roof. Yet, as the sprinkles turned into large raindrops, the practical, no-nonsense side of me gave in.

“Okay, Annika, let’s go!” We dashed to her playhouse and clambered up the ladder into the cramped space.

While water dripped on our heads through cracks in the roof, we talked and giggled, oblivious to the rain. My daughter discovered a new, more playful side of me, and I relived the carefree times of my childhood.

Annika shared her hopes, her dreams and her fears, opening up in a way she hadn’t before. Maybe it was the close quarters. Maybe it was because—for those precious thirty minutes—I was totally and completely focused on her, without the usual distractions and clutter of life. No ringing phone, no barking dog, no sink full of dishes.

No worries. Only the two of us, wrapped in each other, safe from the world and its storms.

Although our cozy time in the playhouse happened almost a year ago, Annika recently said, “Mom, do you remember that day it was raining and you climbed into my playhouse with me?”

“Yes, honey, I remember.” I listened as she excitedly recounted our entire conversation from that afternoon.

“Mom, that was really fun,” Annika concluded.

“Yes, sweetie,” I acknowledged truthfully, “it really was.”

And I’m making certain our future holds more of the same.

These days, this once-upon-a-time, no-nonsense mom is more apt to roll in the grass with the kids than vacuum or dust, balance a checkbook or pay bills. I’m more inclined to give my undivided attention, for even just a few minutes. And that suits me just fine.

After all, the dividends and interest I receive make it a wise investment.

Cindy Gehl

Off the Mark by Mark Parisi. Reprinted by permission of Mark Parisi. © 1994.

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