“Let’s play video games”: growing up and finding friends

I’m not sure at what age kids begin to talk on the phone with friends. But today Elliot initiated a phone call to his classmate to find each other on a video game server.

They exchanged (mine and his mother’s phone number) on Zoom chat and set a time to talk. Elliot counted down the minutes, and when I was punching in the number he asked me what he should say. I told him that if his mother picks up, you should say, “Hello or hi” and “My name is Elliot, …..friend. May I speak with him on the phone?” He smiled and took a deep breath.

After a ring or two, his friend answered, but Elliot tuning out the voice that answered began to say verbatim “Hello, my name is Elliot…” I motioned him to stop and put my hand to my ear indicating he should hear the voice. Once he realized it a kid’s voice, he smiled and shook his head as he put his hand on his forehead. Even still, you could see his grin. Ellis is in on it too, and now 3 of them are playing.

This is a big day for them! I feel they are growing up and finding their own voices. They continued to chat and laugh while they played games, but when Elliot had a question he asked me. I whispered that he should ask the question to his friend, not me. Making that transition from me talking for them to speaking up for themselves.

This gets me off the hook for playing video games with them for a while. They insist on teaching me how to play their video games even though I die early into the game or accidentally kill my teammates. I pretend to hate it: but I secretly think it’s sweet they want to play with me, the videogaming “noob.”

The cliche “they grow up too fast” is ringing true for me today.

being silly together
back in the day, my tiny nuggets

What’s not obvious…cleaning that’s done vs. not done. Attempting work with cheerfulness.

I do a lot of cleaning; more so since we’re always home since March of this year. It is a wonder how much crumbs (from cookie debris to dried pieces of rice) accumulate on the floor by the end of the day. Spills are also big at our house, so mopping the floor is a daily thing too. What’s not obvious about this physical labor is its effects.

If I don’t scrub, mop, sweep, wipe down, wash, and/ or organize, it’s apparent that the living space is messy. The half eaten apple with tiny teeth marks has turned brown and empty milk box with chocolate milk dripping on the side stands proudly on the kitchen counter. I say “proudly” because kids feel that bringing their dirty plates and leftovers to the counter is a big deal. I have to get them to the next step of cleaning up their dirty dishes and other things.

However, this is the crazy part; straight up baffling! If our living space is clean and orderly, it goes unnoticed except for me.

But the hardwood floors get a lot of cleaning since someone drops or spills something on the floor: everyday. Last night Elliot dropped a raw egg on the floor, which splat everywhere. It would be a good learning experience to make him clean up the mess, yet I couldn’t have him handling a raw egg and creating more of a disaster than the initial one.

I’ve been decluttering for years and I’ve made some progress since I can (more so) find what I’m looking for; I call that serious improvement. ­čÖé I knew things had to change when someone would ask me for something and I’d dig into an abyss of crap…I mean stuff…and locate it without even looking at it. I was the only person who could locate the object  and that meant more work for me.

My decluttering now incorporates finding a specific home for our commonly used items (ex. nail clippers, hairbrush, kitchen towels, disposable utensils from take outs, stream of school supplies, Lego galore, paper towels, among others): but designating a specific home for random things is mentally taxing.

If I haven’t used the object in questions for the past 5 years, I toss it, reluctantly. It’ll stick around another five years if I don’t willfully remove it. The best time to do this is when I’m mad and less emotional about holding onto sentimental items. So if you hear papers shuffling, closet doors closing and opening, and the crinkling sounds of garbage bag…that’s me letting out steam. I also eat green peas by the spoonful when I’m upset.

Although cleaning goes unnoticed and doesn’t feel like an earth moving chore, but I remind myself that it fulfills a bigger purpose to create a harmonious space for our family to grow and live. I wish there was more acknowledgement but whatever. I tell myself that God notices, which is the best recognition, and that I’m doing this to keep my sanity intact too. This is my labor of love, just like Chris sits at his desk and replies to emails for hours (once he’s done responding, he has to reply to the responses). ack!

“And it is not necessary to have great things to do. I turn my little omelette in the pan for the love of God.” Brother Lawrence

I love this quote from Brother Lawrence, because it shows that even flipping a food in the pan is an act of worship if we make it that. I haven’t personally read his works, but I learned about him through another writer where the “omelette” quote made a deep impression on me. He lived and died over 300 years ago, but his words still inspire that tasks which seem menial are not. He joined the monastery after getting injured as a soldier and his work mainly dealt with cooking and doing other tiring tasks for others in the monastery.

“Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people.” Colossians 3:23

I saw this plant at the SF Botanical Garden June 2020, and thought that a smaller version of this spiky thing would make a perfect toilet bowl brush.