The morning started off rough. My five-year-old son woke up frightened, because he had had a bad dream. When I asked him to tell me about it, he could not recall many details, just that it was a bad dream and he does not like them. While he waited for breakfast and got ready for school, he could not find his belt, his shoes, his shirt, his backpack, and so on. I knew I could have been stern and persuasive, and exerted my oh-so-(non-)helpful authority to get the job done. Truthfully, I was going to do just that, but then the thought popped in: Special Time.
I am not going to lie, I felt hesitant to try Special Time; it just takes so much more out of me to connect so early in the morning. It was 8:10am and school starts at 8:45am; while we live 3 minutes away, he still had to finish getting ready.
I decided I would skip getting dressed and brushing my teeth until I dropped my son off at school, and then when I returned I could finish getting ready. He would not be the first kid to get dropped off by a mom in her PJ’s. (It turns out that little kids think my PJ’s are awesome.) So, I entered his room, sat at the edge of his bed and said, “You know what, little one? I think I need to just stop.” By this time my little one’s curiosity was captured. He turned and said, “Why?” I said, “Would you like to play Special Time? I have 5 minutes to spare and think this would be really fun!” Of course, he agreed. I asked him what he thought we should do and where, and of course he said, “Soccer, indoors in the hallway!”
I was kind of hoping for silent cuddling in our beanbag while reading a little story, but—oh yeah—Special Time is not about me. So, I cheerfully said, “Okay! Let me get the timer and set it.”
My son went to get the soccer ball and put on his shoes (which he magically found), and on to the hallway we went. For five whole minutes I saw this confident little person giggle and exude a familiar bravado as I feebly attempted to score and he shouted, “Not today, mommy!” In five minutes he must have changed the rules of engagement 10 times. When the timer went off, he quickly pointed behind me and he kicked in a fast one: “GOOOAALLL!!!”
My silly son is so much fun to watch in action. I can’t help but admit that every time I resist the urge to implement Special Time, and every time I am surprised at how rewarding it is by the end of the time.
Well, he was famished after our intense match and gulped his breakfast down, and off to school we went with 2 minutes to spare. Later that day, his teacher told me that he had been so attentive, and asked me not to stop whatever I was doing with him at home.
Did I mention he was also the scorekeeper during our indoor challenge? In case you are curious, I lost, one hundred thousand fifty hundred to 1. “Maybe next time, mommy!” he chided.
“Yeah, maybe next time, mijo,” I smiled back.
–Sareli Beltran, San Jose, CA
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