My boys love to sit at our kitchen bar counter. Our house floor plan is open – a wide space so that while sitting in one of the bar stools, you can see most of the living area from the kitchen counter. It's great for parties and for watching the kids play while I sit and work on the day's to-do lists. There's nothing particularly special about the counter itself, the color is a soft black flecked with grays. But still, the counter is important.
I don't know if it's the height of the bar stools or if my boys like that the stools spin, but there's something that draws them to the kitchen counter. They sit and talk to me about what I'm doing, writing or making. They ask questions and make requests and I respond, admittedly with annoyance at times. We play restaurant from the sides of the counter, ordering sausage pizzas and strawberry milkshakes and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches from one another and serving them up with imaginary flourish. We pay for our goods with invisible bills and always make sure to give back the correct amount of pretend change before wishing our customers to have a good day.
We've practiced drawing letters and numbers, made cookies and amassed an impressive collection of odds and ends toys from around the house. I've mended boo-boos and applied cold packs to bumps and given kisses to make the hurts go away. I've danced, I've tickled, I've giggled. I've prayed, taught, comforted and shared hugs that seemed to last forever.
All of those things, at the counter, always together.
I watched my 4-year-old today, sitting at the counter and gazing out the window silently in thought, those deep thoughts that only preschoolers can think. As I watched him I felt tears forming along with a lump in my throat. As I watch the boys grow up far too quickly in this house, I think about the time we've spent around this kitchen counter so far and I wonder how it will change in the upcoming years. Will the spinning bar stools have the same allure when they fully outgrow their footie pajamas? How soon will the Hot Wheels and action figures be replaced by notes from their female classmates?
I'm all too guilty of failing to cherish the days I have now, having to constantly remind myself that one day they'll trade in their milk mustaches for real ones. Our time at the counter will slowly grow less and less – and getting them to slow down and sit will become more of a challenge than it is already. It's hard to believe having a conversation with the boys could get any more difficult than it is some days, but I know it will. I'll be in competition for their attention with cheerleaders, music, basketball, SAT scores and more.
Somehow I'll find a way to make our time at the counter special through all of our changes. I'll lure them back onto the bar stools with homemade cookies after a day of school. I'll have to find more creative ways to get them to sit and talk about their days. I’ll pray for them over first days of school, broken hearts, driver’s licenses and leaving home for college. The fleeting moments I'll share with them as they pass by the kitchen will be stored forever in my heart.
As we all grow older and our relationships change, I hope they'll remember – they can always find me at our kitchen counter with open ears and open arms.
Amid the fun and chaos of raising two young boys at home, Krista enjoys encouraging parents to embrace their unique parenting style on her blog, playdatecrashers.com. Krista lives in a quiet Kentucky town with her husband who is a pastor at their local church.