Friday, August 28, 2015

Overwhelmed by Play?

I love when I pick up the boys from school and ask if they had a good day (always "yes") and what they did, and the response is always "play, play, and play. That's always going to be my answer." They play with toys and books inside, and with sticks and dirt outside; their lives are surrounded by "play" -and yet I can tell they are a bit overwhelmed. It's stressful on a little body to be listening to another language all day and having to work hard to understand. And also to be at school all day when they have never done that before. Everything is new. Exciting and new, but new. Seeing the world through 5yr old eyes is a different way of looking at things.

Walking home earlier this week, Anders spent the entire walk trying to convince me that I should let him use his Kroner to buy a phone. "I promise I will be responsible, mommy." "But you don't need it." "But I can be very responsible..." etc. All the while, Torben was crying (no, wailing) because I had inadvertently thrown away the two bites of pancake he had saved in his lunchbox from Grandparents' Day and was planning to eat them tomorrow. Over and over again. "Why did you think of throwing those away?! I saved two bites of pancake to eat today! We only get pancakes twice a year! Only on Grandparents' Day!..." etc. It was a long walk.

We often hear phrases such as "I don't get any time to (insert some variety of play) when I have to go to school all day!" or "I didn't get any time to play Lego today!" or "we haven't gotten to watch tv in DAYS!" It is hard to learn about choices, and what to do with our time. They get home from school around 3:30, and dinner is not until 6:00, so there is a good 2 1/2 hours of time to play whatever their little hearts desire. I've discovered, though, that they need time to decompress after school. All that playing makes them tired. And they don't understand that their bodies are tired, even if they don't actually feel tired. That is an interesting lesson to teach to them. Svea, on the other hand, loves to go to bed! That girl has always loved her bed. When it's time to sleep, she takes herself there. (this will probably change some day, but for now we embrace its ease)

Though they are overwhelmed, it seems, by the changes in our lives here, they seem to be embracing the change as well. "Did you have a good day?" is always met with "YES!" And I was not at all surprised to see them dressed this way when I got to school yesterday afternoon:

"Mom! We were playing in the tree! Come see!"

"I can't get up this time...I need the wheelbarrow. We used that on the stump to climb up..."

Dinner was early so the students could go to a concert, so we had more playtime after that before bed. Then the waterworks and wailing started again, overwhelmed by completely non-overwhelming things. I am putting them here, because one day they will be funny -to look back and say, wow, it's hard to deal with a lot of change at once, and it really can make easy things seem like too much.

We asked them to clean up the play room -primarily the Lego and Duplo. They decided one would take the little Lego, and the other the big. The box had come untaped, though, and even though they told me it was undone and I needed to tape it, I simply tucked it back together. They filled it with Duplo...then I went to move the box, and everything fell right back out. Now they were both crying at me. I'm trying to teach them to laugh about things like that. But apparently now is not the time. Tired kids don't learn lessons very well, I've discovered.

One boy wailed "I didn't get to watch any tv today!" -so Daddy gave him a piggyback ride upstairs to get ready for bed. This caused the other boy to wail "I want a piggy back ride!" Then there was the feeding the baby and she needed a new pj shirt, so I asked one of them to get it for her. Torben got up first, then Anders tried to beat him to it (thinking, probably, that whichever of them was the most helpful would get a Kroner or two), except he slipped on a pair of shorts on the floor and fell down, three Stooges style, so he cried, then got up to run, somehow beat Torben to the closet to get the shirt so Torben started crying "I was getting it before Anders fell down mommy! I was TRYING to be helpful!" Just one thing after another. Teeth were brushed without incident. Then we sat down to talk with them before sleeping time. We talked about how it's hard work for our bodies to learn so many new things, and how it makes us tired when we have to try to understand things in a new language all day long, but that it's so important for our brains to learn it now. "I don't want to go to college!!" This was my favourite one. And it was totally out of nowhere. We were not talking about going to college, or even school, at that point. But apparently the thought was just too much. "I just want to stay home all day and play Minecraft" When they are distraught, it's important to listen and try to help them; but sometimes what they say is so funny it's very hard not to laugh. We let them talk more than normal this evening -apparently there was a lot on their minds.

The walk to school was uneventful, though we talked about how it really looks like the tractor is going to dump his loads of dirt onto the street, instead of into the waiting truck. They are clearing out an empty lot that's on our way. We've been watching the progress each day as we walk to and from school. A couple of weeks ago, there was an abandoned set of stairs. It looks like at some point there was a house there, but it's been gone for a while. Now the cement stairs are gone, and they are leveling out the land. So we stop and watch for a while, curious to see what it's ultimately going to be. There are many houses for sale here right now, so it seems unlikely they would be re-building a house there, but we'll see.

Svea has taken a liking to one of the travel mugs she found while digging in the kitchen drawers. She carried it with her on our walk this morning. Then, I made the rookie-mom mistake of using the cup to have some coffee. She screamed the whole way home while I drank it. When we got home, I poured my coffee into a mug and gave her the empty travel cup...which apparently wasn't good enough. She went to the fridge, got our her milk, and attempted to fill the cup herself.  There's no way that could go wrong, right?

Thankfully, although she knows how to open the carton, she's not quite adept enough to unscrew the lid. So I gave her just a bit.

We are working on getting just the right shadow picture of our family out for a walk...

I think we will keep trying, though this one is close. And we all look so tall!

Here's to hoping for another excellent weekend, full of play, snegler (mmm...snegler...), walks, and fun times with the family. We'll start with breakfast at the Højskole. The boys loved that we got to eat breakfast there -with cornflakes and strawberries!

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