What Would Chile Do?

Depending on how old the children in your life are, you may not have heard of the sensational kids show, Bluey. It is an Australian show that Disney has picked up and it is, in a word, phenomenal.

Bluey is approximately 6 years old and is, coincidentally, a blue dog. She has a little sister named Bingo, age 4, and parents, mom Chile and dad Bandit. The foursome make up the core cast of the shows which run only 7-10 minutes.

I love this show for many reasons. The music is great, the messages of each episode are excellent, and the show is intentional about speaking to both its young and adult audience.

For example, a favorite episode in our house is called, “Grannies.” Bingo and Bluey are pretending to be grannies (little kid Australian accents while pretending to be old ladies is hysterical!). Bingo keeps doing the floss dance and Bluey insists grannies can’t floss. Eventually, Bingo becomes tired of being told she is wrong and stops playing. Bluey can’t understand why. She’s right after all. They even FaceTimed with their real Granny and she couldn’t do the dance.

Bluey asks her mom what to do and Chile asks a fantastic question back, “Do you want to be right, or do you want Bingo to play with you?” Such a deep question! Which is more important, harmony or winning the argument? Bluey decides on a 3rd option. She calls her granny back and teaches her how to do the dance. She shows Bingo that grannies actually CAN floss and Bingo decides to play again. Bluey sacrificed her original rightness and created a new situation where Bingo was right. Then they celebrated the change together.

Amazing! All in a 10 minute episode!

I could go on. What prompted this post, however, was a specific episode I watched with our little boys one day when I had a stomach bug and couldn’t do much that morning except sit and watch Bluey. The episode is called, “Neighbors.” Chile, the mom, comes into the living room looking for the couch cushions. Bluey has a number of them set up as a pretend house and asks if Chile want to play a game called Neighbors. In most kids tv shows, the mom would either immediately say Yes or No. “Yes, I am a perfect mom who can drop whatever I’m doing to play with you for hours on end.” Or “No, sorry kid, I’m doing whatever is more important and the lesson of this episode is to learn about imaginative or solo play.” Both overgeneralized statements but both things I’ve seen and felt as a viewing adult.

But not Chile. Chile says, “Umm.” Then she looks back to where she came from in a distinct moment of choice. Ultimately, she says yes. That pause is what caught me. The show provided all the adults in the room to watch another “adult” consider the choice in front of them and choose play. Each time my kids ask me to play, there’s a choice there. I can choose to continue what I was doing, or I can choose to join in their game. There are, of course, legitimate times when I do have to say no. But realistically, there are many times I could have said yes and didn’t.

Bluey has been challenging for me as a mom but in such a good way. It takes a light hearted approach to life while instilling good choices and behavior. It makes you stop and think, like the “Ice Cream” episode that causes everyone to wonder what fair actually is and what lengths are worth going to in order to ensure “fairness.” Or in “Take Away” when Bandit, the dad, doesn’t want the girls to get wet in an outdoor faucet while they wait for their take away (in the US we say take out). They have to wait longer than expected (so you can imagine there are antics and spills with the girls) and the owner brings out fortune cookies to apologize for the delay. Bandit’s fortune says, “A flower may bloom again but a person never has the chance to be young again.” Bandit then let’s the girls play as much as they want in the faucet because it’s just water, they will dry, and they will never have the chance to be young again.

Bluey fully embraces the little things in life and the little happinesses of children. The sheer joy a blanket tucked over your head as you make believe you’re a granny. The silliness of your dad-patient while you pretend to be a doctor. It’s not just about kids imagining but also about how their parents join in the play and fully embrace the game.

I could go on and on. From what we’ve watched, I highly recommend you take the time to watch a couple episodes, even if you don’t have kids. It’s that good. I didn’t even talk about “Camping” here but it might be my all-time favorite.

Lots of Bluey love in this house and lots of appreciation for the writers and creators who have made a show so thoughtful for its full range of viewers.

Daily Graces. kktaliaferro.wordpress.com

The Timekeeper

I’m not sure what moms did before we understood there were hours and minutes keeping track of the day. How on earth did one monitor sharing, playdates and events?? Now, I realize that our ancient forebears probably didn’t have scheduled swim lessons at the community pool or playdates with specific families at the local playground. But sharing, sharing has always been something to deal with. I’m not sure how many times I say or I hear my kids say, “In how many minutes?” when it comes to sharing. Sometimes we even go so far as to set a timer, just to make sure all is fair.

A big part of my time as a mom is being the timekeeper for the family. How many minutes until dinner? How many minutes until playgroup? How many more minutes until we can go home? Why don’t we have a playdate today? What time is that meeting again? Is the commissary closed yet? Watch out, Clare only took an hour long nap today and she is grouchy this evening.

So much time is spent keeping track of time.

We recently decided to take our oldest two out of gymnastics. They had been involved for about a year and loved to go, but it was taking up a lot of time and becoming increasingly difficult for Clare to stay on the sidelines. Plus, there weren’t any times when both John and Rosie could be in class at the same time, so two mornings a week were filled automatically with gymnastics.

The Timekeeper. kktaliaferro.wordpress.com #DailyGraces
Pocket Watch by Romina Campos (2008) via Flickr, CC. Altered by Kate Taliaferro 2016.

We are a few weeks into the new schedule and I have to say it was the right move. I am less stressed out about getting things done in the mornings, especially on Thursdays when we were trying to cram homeschool plus gymnastics all before 11am. The weather is beautiful right now so we are spending more time outside in the mornings and the kids are getting just as much exercise, if not more, by being home and playing. Plus, we now have so much more time for simple, unstructured play.

Watching my kids simply play has been so wonderful. I can see their imaginations working as they come up with different renditions of how to rescue Rapunzel or Snow White or how they intertwine the characters from a book we are reading and a tv show they watched. I love when they are able to problem-solve together and celebrate one another’s achievements.

Now to be completely transparent, not all unstructured play is picturesque. They are still kids and still fight, still talk over one another, still don’t always want to share and definitely all must be first. But that’s ok, it’s all part of growing up.

As an adult, I am seeing in my children’s need for unstructured play a similar need in myself. Even though I don’t necessarily need “playtime”, having time that isn’t scheduled is so important. Sometimes it is ok to just sit and listen to the wind in the bushes in front of my house or watch the hummingbirds hover by their feeder just beyond the front window. Some days I need to just crochet or knit for its own sake, not not because I want to finish the project faster. I try not to “schedule” too much time for writing, rather waiting for inspiration to strike and then writing that day when I can, carrying it over to the next when I don’t finish. To be free to create means first I must have the freedom, a.k.a. the time.

Time is a precious thing. We can all think of days that we wish we had spent differently. Lately, I have started to build some safeguards into my day to help me make sure I accomplish a few things every day. The most important for me is to pray.

I pray everyday, but I do not necessarily have structured prayer every day. Something that I have done to help me remember to pray throughout the day is to set alarms on my phone which are simple reminders to pray (took this idea from my mom – thanks Mom!). At 1:30pm every day my alarm goes off and reminds me to slow down and pray 2 consecration prayers, one is my consecration to Jesus through Mary and the other is a consecration to Merciful Love. (I will be posting about both of these consecrations in the coming weeks, stay tuned!). And at 3pm, an alarm goes off so that I can pray the 3 o’clock hour prayer of Divine Mercy. Just last night I realized that I still have the Angelus memorized from my high school days praying it in our school chapel with a few students and our theology professor so I might start either a noon or 9am alarm. Personally, I need alarms or I forget (I tried and miserably failed).

So I am the timekeeper, both of my own life and my family’s life. When I am doing a good job, it is a blessing. When we get over committed and stretched thin, I resent it. So, as a challenge to me and to you, how well are you managing your time? Are you resentful of how your day is filled or do you enjoy a balance between work, rest and play? What can you do (it might be to say “no” to something) to achieve a better balance?

Peace and blessings