A 9-Year-Old’s To Do List

This weekend was our goddaughter’s birthday. My husband took her to the movies, but instead of going out for lunch, she wanted to come back to our house and spend time with our little ones. I, of course, love having her around because she’s nine, completely helpful, and most importantly, our kids love to be around her.


Over lunch, J (we’ll call her J) and I had a quick conversation that went something like this:

Me: Do you have school on Monday? It’s Columbus Day.

J: No, no school. And that’s a good thing.

Me: A good thing? Don’t you love going to school?

J: I do, it’s just, well, it’s just that I didn’t get a lot of what I wanted to get done this weekend, so I am glad I will have Monday free.

Me: (Chuckles) Oh really? What is on your to-do list?

To me, the notion that a newly minted 9 year-old would have things she wanted to accomplish but couldn’t over a weekend sounded sweet and ridiculous, but I entertained the conversation. And that’s when J started in earnest to give me her list of what she needed to do:

  1. Finish watching Spiderman
  2. Check on my fort (it’s outdoors in her neighborhood)
  3. Play video games
  4. Ride bikes with my friends
  5. Play at the park

That was it. That was J’s to-do list at 9 years old. On Saturday and Sunday she had been having a good and “busy” time with family, but she still wanted to do these simple, delicious kid activities by herself and with her friends. For me, a mom who is a bit of an over-planner, this was such an important reminder. Carve out time for kids to play and come up with their own to do lists.  J came to our house, saw a big cardboard box and designed a puppet show with our kids. I was actually worried that we didn’t have a plan for the afternoon, but it turned out that decorating the stage and putting on the show, along with a nice walk outside, was more than enough to make all of us happy. J, like all kids, has a creative, playful spirit, and she reminded me this weekend to nurture that in her and our own children. 

You should have seen J’s face when her dad came by to pick her up and reminded her that she in fact did have school on Monday. But her dad promised her, and she did get to cross two things off her list for the weekend. Spiderman, of course. And who could go two weeks without checking on their fort?