Bean-Berry Salad and Hamburgers

“He’s wasting the beans, Mom,” six-year-old Micah complains in frustration. 

I look over to see three-year-old Brennan walking away clutching a handful of “beans.”

“What do you mean?” I ask Micah, curious about how Brennan might be wasting the pea-pod look-alikes that are hanging by the hundreds from the tree under which Micah is playing.

“I need those beans for my bean-berry salad and Brennan is using them for hamburgers,” he explains, clearly perturbed…both at Brennan for wasting the beans and that Mom can’t figure this logic out on her own.

“Oh,” I respond.  The situation is now crystal clear to me.

“Brennan’s not wasting the ‘beans,'” I continue,  “He’s using his imagination, just like you.  I think that’s pretty neat that you’re using them to make a salad and that Brennan is using them to make hamburgers.  What he’s doing with them is no different that what you’re doing.  You just both see them as different things.  I love it that you both are using your imaginations.”

Realizing that my “lecture” on imagination wasn’t really what Micah was looking for, I decide to offer some more practical help.

“Here Buddy,” I say to Micah, as I pull down an out-of-reach branch, “I’ll help you pick some more.  There’s plenty.”

Micah quickly jumps up and begins picking, seemingly satisfied.

I love these moments.  These moments of my children playing and using their imaginations.  So many times it’s easy for me to distract them and keep them from doing what comes so naturally to them ~ imaginative play.  In fear of them “getting underfoot,” I sometimes turn on the television.  They are happy and entertained (for the time being) while I peacefully continue on with whatever I deem important.  Other times I try hard to create something that might be a learning experience or is more what I want than what they want.  Even if they are good things ~ playing a game, coloring pictures, or taking a walk together ~ I don’t want those activities to stifle their imaginations.  I want to make sure I carve time for them to just play and be, with no adult guiding and directing what comes next.

And I love it when I get a chance to watch and observe their play.  Again, too many times I send them on their way to play while I get my “important things” done.  Shoo them out the door on a nice day, while I stay inside.  Send them out from underfoot with the command to “go play.”  Moms are busy you know. 

Today, for a change, I took the time to enjoy.  I sat in a chair in the backyard, without a book or magazine in hand.  I sat there and intentionally took in what I saw.  Engaging only when called upon (such as the “bean-wasting” discussion).  I watched as Micah intently gathered “beans” and added them to his bucket.  Squatting, standing on a chair, mixing and stirring.  He was engrossed.  Watch out Emeril!  Brennan, mimicking both big brother (bean gathering) and Daddy (grilling), yet using his own imagination to create a unique twist on reality: grilling the beans as hamburgers on the lower shelf of the charcoal grill.  He was carrying on his own conversation throughout.  I was occasionally pulled in as the customer: 

“Here’s a hamburger for you, Mommy.  Is it yummy?”

“Mmm…it’s delicious,” I respond. 

Delicious indeed.  Two little boys.  A hot summer day.  A moment in time.

Bean-berry salad and hamburgers.  Who could ask for a better meal on a hot summer day? 


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3 Responses to Bean-Berry Salad and Hamburgers

  1. annkroeker says:

    Marvelous storytelling–I feel like I’m there with you and the boys, fake-munching the bean burger! What a delightful afternoon!

    Thank you so much for your comment at my “people who listen” post. I loved hearing your journey as a mom, writer, and new blogger. You wrote in your note, “as the mother of three, I’m wanting more and more to write and record and notice and ponder and remember.” I think that blogging is a fantastic way to do that–the accountability that comes with publishing regularly can keep those stories coming, no matter how simple they are.

    Storytelling is what captivates, and you do it so well in this post. I’m going to dig down a little and read some more.

    You might also enjoy visiting the High Calling Blogs community. On Wednesdays we post on the topic of “family and parenting” under the overall theme of the intersection of work and faith. The network of writers really is much like a community, albeit virtual, and I think you will find many other people who are also striving to tell stories well as they explore the “work” of parenting (which you point out in this post can actually involve a lot of “play”!).

    If you want to visit some of our High Calling Blogs members who identify themselves with the subtopic of family, you can visit this list:

    Thank you again for taking time to introduce yourself. Your writing drew me in–I think you are giving your family and your readers a gift by telling these stories!

    • Thanks so much for both visiting my blog and commenting, Ann! Thanks, too, for your encouraging words. I need feedback, not just from those who know me, but from those who don’t. I know that’s the only way I’ll sharpen my writing skills. I’m so glad my storytelling pulled you in. I’m going to head over to the high calling blogs website now…thanks for directing me there. Sounds like a community I want to investigate! I’ll look forward to continued interaction. ~Kimberly

  2. What a wonderful story, Kim! You are so good for teaching your children that it’s OK to be different and not everyone is going to skin a cat in the same way. I loved the way you explained it to them, friend! Your writing is so wonderful! Happy July 4th! Are you guys home?

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