Parenting

My 4-year-old has been a little critical of me lately. First, I didn’t immediately drive her to Haleakalā at the first sign of snow, or the next day, or the day after that… On top of that, she insists that I don’t ever play with her. 

Nevermind all the experiences, all the baby animals we invite into our home. Forget the magical garden we’ve been planting together for the last month, the countless works in progress all over our house – canvases, cast and painted steppingstones, mosaics, sewing (with a real needle!) projects. The chrysalis in my bedroom.

She cried last night when I told her that I had tossed a ball back and forth with Uncle Buddy – the idea that I actually “played” and it wasn’t with her, was devastating.

I know what she wants. I know what she means by playing. She wants me to stand there and watch her jump on her trampoline. And I start to do that. But then I see those crab spiders I have to knock down, or the million other things I’ve neglected in the vicinity… and my attention wanes. She wants me to act out scenes with her Barbies. Look kid, I’m down to remodel the Barbie house, build homemade furniture, and make sure your dolls offer a balanced representation of gender, race, and body type. I’ll dress them up for your fashion shows. I just don’t want to act out scenes and voices.

So anyway, that brings us to today. When she woke up this morning, it was “Maui freezing”, and she was like, “We need to go to Haleakalā this morning.” But it was Tuesday, a school/workday – so I did the normal routine. At lunchtime, I saw a social media comment about more snow on the mountain. I figured the kid was right, although I couldn’t see the summit through the clouds. Picked her up early and headed up.

Now, we didn’t get too far before I got a clear view of the mountain top. And there was definitely no snow. But she wanted to continue.

It was 50 degrees at the summit at 3 pm. Whatever snow may have been, was long gone by the time we arrived. As I bundled up the “Maui freezing” kid, with a unicorn scarf, she said: “Thanks for giving me a ride through all that we have been through.” I guess it’s possible that she was simply thanking me for being her chauffeur, but I’m pretty certain it was so much bigger. I instantly jotted it down in my phone so as not to forget.

Her gratitude set the mood for a lovely time together at the summit. Hiking a little of Sliding Sands, we even found the teeny tiniest patch of snow! But better yet –

On the drive down, we pulled over. Despite it being a good two hours away, we settled into our sunset vantage point. I hadn’t prepared to spend hours on the mountain, although we found some cookies and warm cans of bubbly water in the car.

We were visited by a pair of nēnē. And we played.

nene on Haleakala

In the back seat, there was a box for donation, of toys and puzzles she’s outgrown. We turned an Easter-themed bowling set into a community. LaCroix boxes became houses, our empty cans became cars. We had a store run by cat proprietors; a post office run by raccoons. Her bears managed the community garden, while her twin mice raced motorcycles up and down a car seat mountain. My rabbit and mouse mostly sunbathed on their roof, reading books, and writing letters with the pencil they bought at the store.

parenting mauimama

I did all the voices, I acted out all the scenes. She couldn’t have been happier.

We drove to the mountain in search of snow, but what we found was so much better. Now to remember how to channel that attention with all the distractions/projects of the home. Another work in progress.

Image Credit: Lauryn Rego

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