Welcome To The Panini Generation: Toddlers, Quality Time And The First Snail Of Summer. So, our five year old Zoe benefited from being born nearly 11 years after her twin brothers. We were so exhausted by then that my rigid parenting standards of reading an hour every day and sports lessons and French lessons and playing the violin were ruthlessly worn down to: “don’t set the kitchen on fire again.”
My expectations for Zoe were simpler. Become a good and kind person. Be curious about the world. Try new things. I liked seeing what interested her, rather than trying to force what all the books told me she should be doing.
Turns out, what Zoe’s interested in is bugs. Emptying her pockets during laundry time in an exercise in terror, since I don’t know if I’m going to find a crumpled dandelion or, like, the first cockroach of spring. Her first love though, are the snails. Ever since I explained that the snails eat our poor hosta plants and no amount of reasoning with the snails will stop them, she’s been on a one-toddler mission to remove them from the neighborhood. I follow behind carrying the “Snail Bag” while Zoe’s sharp little eyes spot a slimy culprit and she pounces. She’ll croon tenderly to the snail, telling how much happier it’ll be “up in the mountains at the Snail Jamboree.” (Editor’s note: don’t look at me like that. Like you never told your kid the dog went to live on a farm?) After 3 seasons of this, I have to admit that I enjoy it nearly as much as Zoe. It’s like a macabre sort of Easter Egg hunt. The neighbors have stopped staring at us poking around in their boxwood shrubs and under the ivy. My daughter keeps up a non-stop flow of chatter about her day, random observations about cupcakes, video games, the kid at pre-school who took her lunch and the dream where her dad turned into a hummingbird. Since the very best snail-hunting is right after a rain shower, we look for rainbows and dance on the sidewalk when we find one, making a wish on the bright band of colors.
It’s nothing like the rigidly scheduled “Quality Time” I set for our twins. with Crafting following Story Time following Music Appreciation. And it’s wonderful. Slimy, but wonderful. As I stealthily throw the bag o’ snails into the garbage. Zoe gets into her pajamas and falls asleep to the vision of all the snails dancing under the pine trees on the mountain at the Snail Jamboree.
I’m curious: what has turned out to be “Our Thing” with you and your child? Share!
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