"Are we having worm casserole for supper tonight?" Glen asked as I walked toward the house with a container full of night crawlers.
"No," I said
The worms aren't part of my meal plan for the day. They're part of my quest to be a fun mom.
This morning, as we waited for the school bus, Dan was wowed by all of the night crawlers in the driveway. When he asked why they were everywhere, I explained that their soil was saturated with water from all the rain in the past 24 hours. They needed to come above ground so they could breath.
"You know what all these worms would be good for, Mom?" Dan asked.
"What?" I replied.
He paused for effect, grinned real big, and then said excitedly, "Fishing!"
I agreed as he stooped over to peer closer at one of the bigger worms wriggling across the driveway.
"Should I touch it?" he queried.
"Sure," I said. (I had a napkin in my hand because I didn't have time to wipe the breakfast off his face before we raced out of the house. Dan's bus comes anytime between 7:20 and 7:28, so we usually rush out of the house only to wait for several minutes.)
Dan poked the worm. It curled up. He jumped back and laughed. I wiped the worm goo off his fingers.
During the last minute of our wait, Dan told me I should go back to the house, get a jar, and put all the worms in the jar so that we could go fishing later.
"The big worms can be for he big fish and the little worms can be for the little fish," he said, matter of factly, gesturing with his hands for emphasis. "Maybe we can catch a piranha with that big one!"
The bus came. Dan clambered up the steps. I walked back to the house.
As I walked, I thought about Dan's request. Historically, my answer to requests like these has been no. But, lately, I've been trying to say yes. I've been trying hard these past couple months to be a fun mom – a mom with more patience, a mom who yells less (Thanks, Orange Rhino!), a mom more open to spontaneous fun.
I've learned that I don't have to yell to get the kids to listen (the May issue of Scholastic's Parent & Child has a great piece on getting kids to listen). I've learned that I do have time to have fun with the kids. I've come to view the couple minutes of time I spend on fun activities as an investment in my children's happiness. I don't have to say yes to all of their sometimes crazy requests, but saying yes brings me joy instead of the guilt that comes after saying no. And joy is way better than guilt.
So, when I got to the house, I grabbed a plastic container and dumped in a little potting soil. As much as I would have liked to pick worms with Dan, I knew the worms would all be gone by the time he returned from school. So, I silenced the reminders in my head of everything I should be working on and went back out in the rain to collect the night crawlers.
And I smiled, hoping that Dan will smile just as big when he sees the container full of worms this afternoon.
P.S. Dear Mother Nature: I'm sorry about all the mean things I said about you this winter. Thank you for the beautiful, slow rain that will turn our pastures green, that will bring our alfalfa and oat seeds to life, and, that brought the night crawlers out of the earth to give me an opportunity to practice being a fun mom.