Sunday afternoon I took myself to a movie which is such a rare occurrence, it nearly warrants a celebration.
(If you’re wondering: Silver Lining Playbook. And yes, I loved it and would love to talk with you about it for 2 hours if you have the time.)
What I didn’t expect was coming home to an actual celebration from my kids.
WE MADE YOU A CARNIVAL! A CARNIVAL, MOMMY! FOR YOU!
Sure enough, as I took off my snow boots and unwrapped myself from the layers of wool and down and cashmere, there taped to the floor on a long sheet of paper was a brightly colored CARNAIVL sign. Looking around, there had been makeshift booths set up and ready to go.
Just for me. A CARNAIVL for me.
I don’t know if they sensed that I needed a little carnival in my life or if they just needed some in theirs, but I jumped right in starting with Sage. She was seated at an upturned box with an array of colorful gemstones arranged on top, the kinds you find in bulk at museum stores and kids beg for, even when you try and tell them that they might appreciate a coloring book or a telescope or an antelope puzzle better.
“You have to guess what row, Mommy.”
“What row what?”
“What row I’m thinking of! See, there are three rows of rocks.”
“You want me to guess what row of rocks is in your mind? That’s the game?”
And so I guessed the second row. Incorrectly. I clearly suck at guessing what’s in her head, and I won no tickets. Fortunately, she told me I could have a second chance. “And also, you can guess the same row again if you want.” On a longshot, I guessed the second one again and this time I was right! I won 2 tickets!
I moved onto the Throw an Inflatable Ball Through the Hole In the Overturned Ottoman, another round of Guess the Row of Rocks, participated in some sort of dance-off with inexplicable rules (Sage won) and finally had my caricature drawn by Thalia. I kind of like the Joan Crawford eyebrows.
After earning a total of 12 tickets, I traded them in for a small green monkey with Velcro on the paws, and I hugged it like it was a pair of diamond earrings.
I didn’t take pictures because I was in the moment. I kept thinking about it, but I just wanted to be there. Enjoying their enjoyment. Reveling in the joy they had in bringing me joy.
As a gainfully employed and mostly fully-developed adult, I recognize that I generally go through my days as a series of responsibilities peppered with a few want-to-dos if I’m lucky. Sometimes even a movie by myself on a snowy Sunday. But there was something so magical and essential about this Sunday. It reminded me that in a 5 and 7 year-old’s eyes, every day can be a carnival.
Every day can be a source of winning and playing and happiness and prizes and making your mom dance with you.
I think more days can be like that for us mostly fully-developed adults, too. You just have to make it so.
31 thoughts on “Lessons from my children: Make carnivals”
My kids keep teaching me that any day can be “the best day ever”.
This past weekend, we did a combo birthday for both kids (their birthdays are exactly two weeks apart) where we corralled a small handful of their friends, made foam sticker art, ate pizza, freeze danced and had cake. That was it. Then later that day Amelia had Dance Company rehearsal and an hour long “hair and makeup” session where we all learned how to do their stage hair and make up for performances. And even though it was a long and exhausting day and we hadn’t done anything remotely fancy for their party, both kids went to bed telling me it had been their best day ever.
I love when the Best Day Ever is the one you plan and hope for.
I love when the Best Day Ever is never one you even imagined.
I came home to flop on the couch and check email, instead I got to go to a carnival.
Ahhhh…such a great reminder about being in the moment. What a wonderful day you had!
Isn’t it funny when kids remind us of LIFE, that we, concious, self-aware adults keep forgetting and/or pushing down the list of obligations? We need more kid-thinking and more carnivals!
Yay for more carnivals!
That’s delightful. My 4yo is really into birthdays. He is constantly throwing us birthday parties and boxing up toys to give us a “good prize” (aka a “surprise”). It actually makes his sister’s actual birthday, which is today, seem a little redundant.
You just brought back so many memories of the kids at 2 and 3 celebrating birthdays all the time. Thank you for that. Redundancies like this aren’t so bad.
I just wish I could get away with blocks for a cake and recycled toys for presents on their actual birthdays! 😉
It only works for siblings. My sister gave me stuff I already owned, wrapped with love, for many years…probably til I went off to college and she got a real job. We all used to laugh at how much joy she took in giving us stuff we already owned…and just this year, I’ve been talking about it with my own girls (who are very close in age to S&T). They were ready to box up our entire playroom just to open more gifts.
Ha! Glad to hear I am not the only one. We wore party hats for dinner last Thursday just for the party of it.
That’s just adorable. I know how much it meant to them too, that you got into the spirit of it.
I may not remember every detail that’s not documented with photo and video, but the afterglow remains nonetheless, and that’s enough for me.
Boy- this made me smile!!
-and even gave me a few goose bumps-
Aren’t children freaking awesome sometimes??
Freaking awesome mostly.
Well that just made me feel good about the world in general. I love hearing what charming things your girls come up with!
When my oldest was about 5 I came home to discover she’d set up the living room as a museum with odd little exhibits and signs…. And last summer all the kids made a zoo for me, complete with a map so I could shuffle from one display to the next a foot away and not get lost. Makes me smile every time I think of it.
I hope you saved the map. That’s always the best part.
Love love love that this stage of life allows them and us to believe that a day out at the carnival requires no more that a cardboard box and a few rocks. Long may it last.
Sigh, this was such a lovely post that I I read and re-read it again, just to remind myself how important it is to be in the moment, especially when it comes to our children.
That’s really nice Scarlette, thanks for commenting.
I love moments like these… They are the times that stay with you forever. We should all try and live in the moment more often!
This just put the biggest smile on my face. Thank you for that.
We just recently started having obstacle course nights at our house. We take turns creating obstacle courses that everyone else has to do. “Run down the hallway, jump 10 times on the trampoline, knock over 6 plastic dinosaurs, run up the steps while singing Happy Birthday ….” You get the idea.
Everyone gets some exercise (hard to come by in the cold) and the kids looooove making their own courses so they can be In Total Charge of Everyone for a few minutes.
Plus, they think it’s hilarious to watch mommy try to worm through a toddler tent on the living room floor.
This reminds me of the “restaraunts” my kids have made a number of times…I come home from work, contemplating what to make for dinner, and discover that they have set up a hostess stand, set the table, dimmed the lights, lit a few hundred candles, and made usually something truly terrible like pizza made on a tortilla crust served with bubbly water (seltzer to some). They write menus, lead me to my seat, take my order (it’s a brief menu) and serve. It’s lovely, every single time. I don’t even mind the cleanup.
Can’t wait for that date!
That is so awesome! You must have been dripping with love and probably still are! My 2 year old son makes my heart melt and inspires me to let go of my inhibitions everyday. Experiencing the world through the eyes and mind of a child is one of the best parts of being a mom.
Oh, Liz, this reminds me of the Fun House that Fredda and Howard and I used to make for Momsie, Pospsie, and Nanny in Nanny’s tiny bedroom. We blindfolded each of them, led their hands through plates of cold spaghetti, soaked their legs in buckets of ice water, and walked them around an “” of blankets and towels. We, too, didn’t take photos (our Brownie Hawkeye camera was a precious and rare thing) but, like you, we’ll have those memories forever. Gifts like yours were given with great love, received with more love, and through mom101 spread exponentially with love.
Oh, Liz, this reminds me of the Fun House that Fredda and Howard and I used to make for Momsie, Pospsie, and Nanny in Nanny’s tiny bedroom. We blindfolded each of them, led their hands through plates of cold spaghetti, soaked their legs in buckets of ice water, and walked them around an “obstacle course” of blankets and towels. We, too, didn’t take photos (our Brownie Hawkeye camera was a precious and rare thing) but, like you, we’ll have those memories forever. Gifts like yours were given with great love, received with more love, and through mom101 spread exponentially with love.
Love this. Especially Sage giving you another try…
We visit the “Zooquarium” every time my kids and their cousins get together. There are special passes, dinosaurs, dolphins, pandas, ugly dolls…you name it, they have it on display, and each kid is an expert at one or two of the animals. It’s priceless.
Thanks for the reminder of the joy of being present. Happy Friday to you!
(oh and PS Silver Linings Playbook…call and let’s talk. For hours. Seriously.)
I’ve been trying to live this lately. I have had to deliberately change my way of thinking and reach way down deep for patience with my three. It’s helped me live more in the moment, keep my tempter at bay, and just plain enjoy them more. So worth it. The carnival sounds so fun! And hard to win prizes with all the mind games. 🙂
I love getting lost in the scenarios my girls construct. They exercise my muscles of hope and suspension of disbelief in ways that literally help me roll through some of the unreasonable situations I find myself in with adults.
Also, those silly stones, I’ll be damned if they don’t show up in cup holders or high heel shoes and bring me much needed levity.
Thanks for the peek into your carnival.
So fitting since Carnival is going on in most of the world around the same time. I loved your comment about not taking pictures because you were so in the moment. Those are the moments that you won’t forget because you were right there, living them.
My heart is bursting with love. And I love how you shared it. Thank you. They are so full of joy and creative imaginations.
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