Saturday, August 21, 2010

8/21/2010 The home park

Being a single parent this weekend, somehow I felt extra pressure to be a Great Mom and do something Really Fun and Extraordinary and Amazing with my children.

Instead, I stayed in bed as long as I could. I didn't even have the energy to gather everyone and everything to get to the Y in time for a workout before the Childwatch closes at 12:30. I did have to get up to give Katrina breakfast at 7:30 -- she was dressed and complained that no one was helping her (often the boys will get her cereal). I got her started and went back to bed until almost 10. I am so glad to be past the baby GETUPNOW phase.

But despite my lack of energy and persistent need for a nap all day, I managed not to be too too negligent. Gabriel and I made French toast together, which he loves to do. I really enjoy the pride he gets from making it himself. I had to reach some things and talk him through all the steps, but he pretty much did all of it, including handling the stovetop flame. This boy will go away to college being an expert French-toast maker!

After a drudgerous but necessary run to Staples for some school supplies, I pulled the ping-pong table out of the garage, and set it up for the first time in our new backyard. I found a perfect spot where both players could be on pavement. The boys had a great time, playing for an hour and a half, without fighting. They even had some rallies going, but they also made up games and laughed a lot. I was very happy to see that.

Meantime Katrina played out front by herself, also for well into an hour and a half, largely because her brothers weren't bugging her. She was walking along the retaining wall, exploring the bushes and plants, sitting on the bench, running her fingers through the tanbark, teetering on the little rock river.

It surprises me to read on Facebook that other moms are enjoying their kids being 8 because they can play on their own so much better now -- this seems to be a common thing, but it's completely out of my world. All three of our kids have been extraordinarily self-entertaining since they were very, very young. Most parents admire this and smile and say "oh that's great!", but I can't even say if it's great or not. It's just how it's always been. We never made it a goal or worked toward developing independence or anything, they just did that. (Could it be that my own dim interest in kids-only activities, the dearth of extra-curriculars, my inability to join their world, played a role in that?)

Anyway, independent or not, one could safely argue I shouldn't let my 3-year-old play out front by herself for so long without supervision, but I did check on her (ok, once), and truth is, that's very normal for her, and us. I didn't go so far as to take a nap while she was out there though.

But neither Katrina nor the boys would have lasted nearly as long outside if it weren't for our new landscaping. There's so much more to do and see and play in; there's shady places and stepping stones and open areas and places to hide, climb, and search for bugs and mushrooms; there's things to dig in and draw's visually rich, it has many textures and levels and colors and curves and angles and is a very appealing place to be. I'm delighted.

In the late afternoon, I trooped them all into the car to drop off a Baba Au Rhum holiday cake I had to try making, then decided I had to capitalize on the capture. If they're all strapped into the car, I'm going to make the most of it! I took them to Michael's, and had a brainstorm as I was parking: it was time to address Julian's adorable moptop.

This turned into haircuts for all three. Just the way I like it: no planning, no waiting. Gabriel's hair was still short from the lice episode, but getting scraggly and uneven around the edges. I wasn't planning on a trim for Katrina, but she asked for it and it's always wise to have a pro even out her bangs after my hacking at them, plus her hair is getting pretty long in the back. And shoulder-length is so cute on her.

You can see in photos how pretty her hair is, but it's really glorious in real life. Smooth, swingy, full of body, beautiful multi-colored streaks, super-soft and healthy.

Back at home, the park play continued, with all three of them going around with these silly toys of animal heads on sticks with mouths that can open, picking up pieces of tanbark or hanging them from branches. Naturally for the boys these became guns and vehicles of destruction.

Some of the play wasn't so constructive, like when the boys threw tanbark and clumps of dirt onto a patio, which turned into half an hour of them sweeping it up. It'd have been a whole lot easier to put them on time-out than make them sweep, since that created a lot of work for me checking on them every few minutes. You can't leave two boys alone with brooms for long, they become weapons very quickly. But in the end they did a pretty good job.

We didn't do anything Extraordinary or Amazing today, but just being at home, playing, running, imagining -- and even being bored sometimes -- is exactly what everyone needed.


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