May 5, 2016 10:00 am Simplicity Rules (A Classic Revisited)
The late day sun felt great in the play yard of Little Farm Nursery School. The day had that perfect Thursday afternoon feeling. Children and parents were getting into cars.
“Could you and Timmy come over for an early supper tonight? Mike won’t be home until late,” Meredith Ford asked Jane Mathews.
“We’d love that!” Jane answered. “Dave is late tonight too. What time is good?”
“Luke and I are off to the grocery store to pick up a few things and then will go straight home. Anytime after 5 will be perfect.”
“We’ll see you soon then.” The boys were smiling at one another. Luke had a soft bunny against his cheek and Timmy was already sniffing a very much loved tatter of a blue blanket.
The shopping was quick: cheeseburger makings, salad stuff and ice cream. Luke loved shopping anywhere but especially at this grocery store. In the bakery department a kind lady always asked Jane if Luke could have a cookie. As usual, Jane was delighted for Luke. “Thank you,” she smiled.
Luke nibbled his cookie slowly, trying to make it last until they left the store. Just a crumb was left as they paid.
“The cookie lasted, Mommy!”
“That’s amazing. How do you always make that happen?”
“It is the cookie, I think. It just tells my mouth how to bite it.”
The ride home was fun. Luke was describing a volcano Mrs. Montgomery made with them in school.
“She made a little one and then a huge one. Suzy started crying. She thought they were real and really hot. So Mrs. Montgomery put her own finger on the volcano to show her it was okay. Suzy started laughing and then she touched them. It was good Mrs. Montgomery did that, right?”
In no time Meredith and Timmy were there. The boys colored and built things together. Timmy and Luke liked each other very much although they were new friends. Jane and Meredith and the boys had met at the beach last summer. The boys had dug together and made a fort that was still there the next day. Then family vacations and other plans slid in. It was nice to reconnect. Both mothers had an easy approach to motherhood and they shared a love of open time with their children.
The boys were happy to come to the table and wolfed down their meals. Meredith and Jane had wine and salad as the boys had their ice cream. “I love everything,” Luke said.
“Me too,” Timmy chimed in.
This was such a nice idea Jane,” Meredith smiled. “Thank you for having us.”
“Oh Mommy,” Timmy asked with pleading hands in front of him. “It’s not over is it?”
“No dear, not yet. But in a little while we’ll have to think about going back home.”
The idea of a few extra minutes meant so much to the boys. They used it to build with special wooden blocks. Their buildings began as a farm, but then became a fair, with lots of pretty details. The openness of the time made it easy for their ideas to flow. Jane and Meredith were happy that their boys’ time together was such a cozy one.
“We love your building,” Meredith said, patting their heads.
Jane looked at Meredith. “They like an unplanned time as much as we do. Their building is like our evening.”
As they cleaned up the kitchen, the women talked about making another date soon.
“Timmy and Luke, this was a great time,” Meredith began. The boys knew from Meredith’s voice that their evening was coming to a close. Time for each of them to get ready for bed.
“Next week, how about if you and Luke come to our house?” Meredith said without reservation.
“Just like tonight but at our house, Luke,” Timmy said with excitement.
“Oh Mommy, can we please?” begged Luke.
“That would be lovely, Meredith.”
Everyone hugged as Timmy and Meredith went to their car. “Thank you,” they called to each other through the cool night air.
“See you tomorrow,” Timmy called back from his car.
”I’ll say goodnight to our building.” Luke called back.
Timmy and Meredith’s car purred off with Luke watching from the living room window.
“I loved tonight, Mommy.”
“I did too, my Luke.”
Luke found his bunny and walked up the stairs holding his mother’s hand. They both yawned, feeling deeply grateful for having been given just what they wanted.
The openness and simplicity of this time made it a big success. A spur-of-the-moment invitation, an easy meal and a happy and relaxed atmosphere for children and parents made this evening perfect. Keeping it simple let the children’s imaginations and the parents’ coziness be featured. Neither mother felt the need to orchestrate her child’s behavior, so consequently the behavior was flawless. The success of this impromptu evening will definitely ensure that another one will come up soon.
Written by: Anne Martine Cook, Managing Partner & Mom, with 40+ years experience teaching nursery school children.
We welcome your comments and questions.
Originally published in June 2013.