Throughout our state’s stay-at-home order, I’ve been working from home. At about week two, I asked my husband to finalize the assembly of our treadmill, which had been put in our room when we moved, but never completely put together. Little did I know that the treadmill was going to become a stage for my six-year-old’s performances.
My desk is also set up in our room. Luckily, our room in our new house is quite large. The treadmill is right next to my desk. During her breaks from schoolwork during the day, my six-year-old would get on the treadmill and walk or just stand on the platform and dance or sing.
And every time, it was prefaced with “Mom, watch me.”
This girl likes an audiance. She’ll make up shows for every day of the week if she could. For Mother’s Day, she and her sisters wrote a skit DONE IN THE FORM OF A NEWS BROADCAST (!!!!) for me. This is serious business.
But there are sometimes when it’s not easy to watch every single encore. Like when I’m working. She’ll do something on the treadmill, like put a My Little Pony on the belt, and turn it on. Resulting in the Pony falling on the floor.
But every time, “Mom, watch this!”
One day last week, I had watched a five-song recital in our living room. I came upstairs to clean up my desk and prepare for the next day.
“Mom, watch me.”
That appeared to be the last time my brain could process those words. Typically, I stop what I’m doing to indulge her because so many people watched my impromtu dance recitals and plays in my living room and my grandma’s basement. But this time, I had enough.
“Do I have to?” I asked.
She looked at me blankly. “No, only if you want.”
I immediately felt bad. I told her I’m just trying to get something done. While we are home all the time, my work is constantly there. I work until dinnertime-ish, make dinner, clean up, and try to get in a little downtime before repeating it all over again the next day. But she’s bored. She’s without friends. Her sisters don’t always want to play. She’s six. And I just basically told her I have no interest in what she’s doing, creating, being, exploring.
We arrived at the Oak Grove KOA in Missouri and the first thing we noticed was that the pool was OPEN! Thank God because with temps in the 90s, my husband going to the plant every day and my work load, these ladies are going to need something besides a smoking hot playground and the confines of our camper to keep themselves entertained.
After setting up camp, a quick trip to the grocery store and a break to cool off, I told the kids I’d take them to the pool. I surveyed the area, which is just across the road from our campsite, and it looked in direct sun with no shade for spectators. I really need to check on a clip-on chair umbrella the next time I’m at Walmart.
At that time of day there was a small area in the shade so I settled in to keep an eye on the kids. The water was ice cold so I figured we’d be in and out. But no. Apparently their bodies are able to adapt to extreme cold.
What was the first thing out of my six-year-old’s mouth?
Yup. “Mom, watch this.”
She climbed to the top step on the pool ladder and jumped in. There was nothing interesting, innventive or show-stopping about this jump. She was buoyed back up by her lifejacket and said, “Did you see it?”
Yes, yes I did. And we repeated this process about 40 times. I even recorded it once. And for my amusement, I did it slow-motion. I sat there for a lot longer than I would have if we were at home. I don’t have the nagging thoughts of cleaning up, starting a project, unpacking a box or visiting with friends (when allowed). I’m just….here.
And that’s sort of why we decided to make this trip.
We moved into our house seven months ago and, much to my dad’s horror, I still use the phrase, “Well, we just moved…” when I can’t find something. There are boxes to unpack (not mine but whatever), a basement to be cleaned up, rooms to paint, repairs to make, gardens to tend and just every day life tasks. All of that take precendent to my attempts to just be.
In my camper, it’s a lot easier to sit in a chair and read a book rather than weeding the garden for the second time in a week. It’s easier to sit down and blog, which I consider to be a luxury, than cleaning the bathroom, dusting or running to the grocery store.
It’s also a lot easier to pause when someone says, “Mom, watch me.”
The Oak Grove KOA isn’t luxury living. It’s near a highway. The sites are small. The pool isn’t huge. And the bathrooms are off-limits to non-tent campers because of social distancing in the time of COVID-19. But right now, from where I write this, i can see my daughters on the playground, using one of those death-spinners that I hated as a kid and climbing. Just a bit ago, I was watching them throw a frisbee. If I turn to my left, I can clearly see the signature KOA jumping pillow, where they will inevitably be when they tire of the playground.
And while I’m notable to oblige every “Mom, watch me,” I’m going to lap up the life of having the opportunity and the time to say “great job! I’m so proud of you!” a little more.