What I'm learning about parenting is this: You have to be all in. Children grow up whether you're intensely involved or not. The opportunity we have is to be a part of that during the short amount of time we have with them. And we choose the degree of intensity.
During the past four years I've had ups and downs-periods of complete attention and periods of viewing from the sidelines. The last year I'd evaluate as fairly well checked out and the results are there to prove it. Beck and I argue like he's a teenager. Indeed I look at him and can see exactly what 14-year-old Beck will be. But the good news is that that's true for the good times too! I've noticed before, and I'm seeing it now...when I'm anxiously engaged in being mom to my two boys, they smile and laugh and want to be anxiously engaged with me. It's a lesson worth learning, and one I'm sure I'll need to keep learning again and again.
Today's Teaching Your Children Joy activity was to "make spontaneity a high priority." Be open to letting it happen anytime and anyplace. It's hard to get past the point when you holler "No," or "Stop," "Sshhh!", but when you do it makes the world more interesting for both you and your child.
So try it. Let them splash in a puddle. Follow the direction of their pointing fingers and over-enthusiastic shouts of "LOOK!" Clear the way and let them spin the kid cart while walking through the grocery store. They'll be happier and you might just find yourself barefooted squishing mud between your toes.