Who is in your wolf pack?

I just found a little book Laurel made out of post-it notes. "Laurel's Book of Happy Picshrs and Wrds." it said. One of the pages included the title "wolf pack" and listed all the kids she runs around with after school. There are a few families who pick up their kids and end up hanging out for a while. Sometimes they actually do howl like wolves, but within the context of playing out these elaborate make-believe worlds. They drag around tree branches and stones and dig in the dirt and everyone takes on a pseudonym or sometimes an animal persona.

Our kids don't do too many formal activities. Laurel is in Girl Scouts and Marko just finished a session of gymnastics, but that is pretty much it.  Sometimes I worry that they are missing out, because kids around here tend to be enrolled in a lot of classes and lessons and camps. But mostly I am grateful for the space it leaves in our lives right now.

When I was a kid, our next door neighbor never even turned her car off. She just pulled in and out of the driveway a million times a day to shuttle her four kids around. They ate in the car. I always thought they were over-scheduled, but it recently occurred to me that if my kids each do just one sport and the seasons overlap, that could be a practice or a game every single day of the week. I could be stuck in my car for weeks at a time.

But for now, we have days that feel very full, but require little in the way of rushing. And wolf packs.


Managing Vs. Connecting

Sometimes I spend too much time looking at my kids as something to be managed. And truly, if I don't manage at all, terrible messes and much chaos falls upon our home. However, thinking of parenting as an opportunity to build a relationship is a much different way of looking at it. Max is one. I can control a lot of his behavior because I can control his environment. Put things out of reach and so forth. Plus, he's with me all the time. Laurel was once one, but is now seven. When I type that, it seems like she's still young, but when I look at her, she looks like she's practically a teenager. The ways that I am able to control her environment are quickly disappearing. She already lives a lot of her life beyond my watchful eye. I'm not going to stop paying attention avoid setting reasonable boundaries, ever. But now is the time to establish some good communication habits, and time set aside for private and quiet conversation. Today we went out for coffee/hot chocolate. We took journals and books and hung out for a good long while, plus there is a nice mile long walk to the coffee shop. No little brothers in sight. She's different in this setting. Nothing serious came up...this time. But I don't want our only 1:1 time to be when something serious is happening.