Although I sometimes think that it would be nice to have the kind of children who are able to amuse themselves quietly for hours with a puzzle and a colouring book, I am eternally thankful for the kind I do have. Even though they enjoy puzzles and the occasional colour, they do not amuse themselves for hours (at least without committing major household rule infractions) and they certainly are not quiet.
Instead, I got the kind of kids who rip the sheets off the bed to make a sail with over their pirate ship/couch, by pinching one end between a door and its frame and poking a hole through another to hang from a ceiling plant hook. Then they attack and board the love seat, push the cats overboard and loot the cushions. All within five minutes of their waking and I am still trying to find a teabag for my morning cup.
My kids love adventure and drama. When they play it sounds like a full scale medieval attack is being launched on the house, complete with catapults and thundering armies of horseback riders. If the riders were all madly giggling.
I would never claim my children are of the strong willed sort. Their various grandparents have, individually at different times, made vaguely accusatory mumbling noises about that sort of label, particularly of Birdie, but I'm not buying. I will, however, accept that they are terrifically demanding. They can run me off my feet if I'm not careful. Usually I work in sort of a Girl Friday capacity, fetching more tape or the scissors, or finding that elusive scarf of a particular shade or material that they must have for their imaginative play to continue. Sometimes it has to be a particular book or toy car, or the cd with that song that no one has played in three years. Mainly I make the time to give them my services in support their creative work and play, though sometimes I tell them to get it their own darn selves. Knowing when to do and when to pass is the ongoing work of parenting. I am learning.
Among my skill set that my children find valuable is how to make almost anything out of cardboard and duct tape. Whether this from my natural inclinations or having grown up with the ever present Red Green on the CBC, I really do try to provide whenever specific requests are made as quickly as possible.
(The Man also is brilliant at providing play props, though his tend to be extravagantly designed and involve wiring of some sort. Smootch is of the age now where she can help with more complicated projects and wait hours, days or even weeks, for a small prop for a game, but Birdie still has no patience for it and is likely to try to pull apart the actual completed project almost immediately to see what is going on inside.)
So, when the kids need some swords to fight Captain Hook, I know I have only the time it will take for the Tide to completely cover Tiger Lilly's head to produce a couple of serviceable swords. Thank goodness I have spent sufficient time developing my weaponry building skills and I am now able to put together a sword in under a minute using readily available materials. This is the sort of invaluable on the job training parenting provides. Then, of course, the children will need some way of stashing their swords while they fly around Neverland, cruising for lost boys and treasure, and it is my job is to figure out how to keep their swords around their waists. Right now.
I have profound love for cardboard and tape. Even more, though, I am grateful that my children also love cardboard and tape. Their duct tape belts and toilet paper tube scabbards are poor cousins to the plastic and cloth, made to look like the real thing, dress up sets we see in the shops and can't even hold a candle to the elaborate handmade props made by some of the amazing crafty people online. I'm sure they'd love to have more elaborate gear, with bells and whistles, but, when Tiger Lilly is drowning and Wendy is walking the plank, I'm proud that they go for what is crude but inspired, rather than realistic and contrived.
On the good days, when no one is grumbling about harbouring strong-willed little beasties or trying to create more socially acceptable drones, I love to pretend that all I need to raise these amazing kids is my time given freely and lots and lots of cardboard.