I have begrudgingly come to kinda partially somewhat accept that Story is not a baby any longer. She has made it as easy as possible for me. She converses like an adult, can wear my shoes, is as tall as some of my friends, and loves to argue logic as much as I do. As all these things have come about gradually, I didn’t notice that other things were falling away gradually: the snuggles, the bedtime stories, the giggles, and especially the playfulness.
Story and I have settled into a comfortable existence. She goes about her days taking care of her responsibilities (with a few reminders now and then) and then entertaining herself. I am in a constant state of being behind, so there is always a responsibility at hand for me. We eat dinner together, and then I usually do some work and she gets on the computer. We read together but separately before bed and then start all over the next day. Of course this routine is broken up by board meetings and lessons some, but for the most part, that is our life.
I’ve become accustomed to this routine and have never questioned whether we were happy in it. Of course we’re happy. We very rarely fight, we are always kind to each other, we help each other out without having to be asked, we respect each other, we’re happy. Right?
This past weekend made me wonder. Story was at a friend’s house Friday night and most of Saturday, so we didn’t spend much time together until Sunday. On Sunday, we had to cram in all our normal weekend chores. We usually make a list and divide them up. But on this day, for some unknown reason, I didn’t make a list. Instead, I called Story to me and in a royal voice asked her if she would accept my challenge and work her way up to being a knight in my queendom. She stood puzzled for a moment, and in that moment, I was utterly sad. My wonderfully imaginative uber-creative child had forgotten what it was to play with me.
Just when it was becoming rather awkward, she broke into a smile, bowed low, and said she accepted my challenge. For the rest of the day, I sent her on quests (chores to be completed), and with each success, she was raised a step higher in rank, complete with ceremony. We spoke in crazy voices and made crazier hand gestures. We even pretended to be different characters at court.
I haven’t seen Story smile with such genuine happiness in a long time. Or, maybe I just haven’t been paying attention. I think we have been content, but happy? I don’t know. Regardless, I know that we were happy on Sunday. And I am going to do my damnedest to insert playfulness into our lives more often. After all, one should never outgrow imagination.