We hardly ever -- to the point of "never" -- do playdates, because weekends would be the only time. But somehow this weekend, we had a plethora of them.
Saturday morning, my new friend Cindy invited Katrina over for a playdate with her 2006-er Emily, to give her a break from entertaining this very social little girl. This has never been the case for us: our kids play for so, so, SO long on their own that I always fear playdates will increase the attention I have to put to them. Our kids do become a lot of work when they play together. I don't know if a playdate would add to or subtract from that equation.
Anyway, I was more than happy to "oblige" Cindy -- hah! It's not enough that she loaned me all her ski stuff for 6 weeks and completely advanced my knowledge of ski gear (let's hear it for mitten strings), but now she's taking my daughter off my hands for 2 hours! She's also really easygoing, and full of good information and inspiration. It makes me miss my past Las Madres days of playgroups and outings -- though she also has a very busy 20-month toddler and I so don't miss those days, cute as he is.
Katrina and Emily disappeared together immediately.
(Emily is actually younger than Katrina, with a November birthday, and Cindy has received the expected grief about sending her to kindergarten in August. If I didn't know Emily's age, I'd have guessed her to be pushing 5 -- she's social, outgoing, confident, very verbal and articulate...oh yeah, and completely potty-trained, unlike Katrina. And taller than Katrina. I've assured Cindy to ignore the naysayers.)
While Katrina did the girl thing, I took Julian shopping. Normally he'd object, but this trip involved Bey Blades for Gabriel's birthday playdate tomorrow.
He willingly posed outside a nice little CA-native oasis garden right outside a snow-gear store in an otherwise odious strip mall.
On sale, my size, comfortable...sold! I bought myself ski boots!!!! I was just investigating, but, I can't argue with those elements. Gloves too. Researched ski rentals too, as I'd like to take the boys up for a one-day overnight ski trip next weekend. I was out of time for skis and poles though.
This was one expensive playdate. With all that time to shop, I went back to pick up Katrina $300 lighter.
But it's all worth happy little girls. Katrina did not want to leave, that almost turned ugly, but eventually she did. They had a great time; played in Emily's room, downstairs, outside, and rocked together in a reclining chair. And I think Cindy's objective was met, which was some time without her daughter asking for things every few minutes. It worked great!
Speaking of playdates, that evening, Dave and I joined four other now-longtime Las Madres friends and husbands for a wonderful dinner at an unusual Brazilian restaurant that specializes in unusual meats and cuts them right at your table. The husbands all basically recognize each other, but this was the first time they were all cornered into a table at the same time.
I'm not sure how the guys felt about it, but I certainly enjoyed it. I've known these men as long as the women, and my friends have some really cool husbands, I always enjoy talking to them. For a while there, they were the only men besides Dave who I talked to on a regular basis!
Then today, Sunday, Gabriel had a "birthday playdate." That meant two friends -- more than a playdate but less than a party. I'd planned for his birthday "party" to be in his classroom as Julian's had been, but after I'd committed to it, I learned that the 3rd grade does it very differently. It's really more of a birthday "meeting" -- they "affirm" they child and hand out treats and favors, but that's it -- and no parents! So I baked the muffins and spent the money and time on favors, and Gabriel brought that stuff in, but I wasn't there for his party! Weird.
So we made up for it with a "birthday playdate." Gabriel invited his longtime friend Parth (from kindergarten, and now they've been reunited in their 3rd grade class), and also a first-grader named Dan.
First-grader?! Gabriel could not be dissauded. "Mom, Dan is always so joyful!" he exclaimed. Well, far be it from me to exclude a joyful kid! I really wanted this to be for Gabriel's friends, without pesky little brother, but a first-grader in the mix made it a little odd. Thank goodness Dan isn't in Julian's class (though he does have Gabriel's same first-grade teacher).
So I took chatty Parth and joyful Dan and Gabriel to the nearby ice-skating rink, and we had a great time. I was immediately awash with a warm happy feeling, like I was in my element and I too was home and at peace, as soon as we pulled out of the driveway. I love listening to the boys excited and laughing in the car, and talking and joking with them too. These to me are the pinnacle parenting moments, with the anticipation of a great time doing something active together.
Dan had only skated once, but he was raring to go. He got on the ice before I was ready, and didn't mind at all wall-hugging until I got there. I peeled him off the wall (get kids off the wall first thing, the ice is worst there and they can't learn to skate), showed him a few basics, and before long he was skating on his own.
Parth and Gabriel, who were in ice-skating camp together last summer, also showed him the ropes.
Gabriel was right, Dan was always smiling, always cheerful, never discouraged. He slipped a lot, but never hard, and he did great. By the end, he was skating more than Parth, though Parth was more interested in talking and telling me all about how airplanes work. This kid is as destined to be an aeronautical engineer as Gabriel is to be an electrical one. A good team for an airline company!
But I was really stunned by how kind and sweet and encouraging Gabriel was to Dan. He treated Dan like -- of all things -- a little brother!!!! He doesn't treat his own little brother anything like that!!
Dan couldn't keep up with the 3rd-grader conversation -- he's only 6 years old, and won't turn 7 until August, speaks Hebrew at home and his mother's English is pretty rocky -- but Gabriel obviously enjoys being around him a great deal. So funny how kids pick their friends. Gabriel doesn't have many, but he picks really awesome ones. I adore Parth too, and his mother is the nicest person on the planet.
Back at home, the boys had a snack while I frosted Gabriel's cake. They were joined by Julian, decorated the cake (dumped sprinkles onto it that is), ate some, then played Bey Blades until Moms showed up.
I think I had the best time of all. I didn't get to skate on my own a whole lot, but I didn't mind at all. It was so fun playing with them, teasing Gabriel, asking them to show me things, getting them to follow me, "race" a little. Afterward was fun too, chatting and bantering with them, though more often just stepping back and letting them be little boys together without butting in. This is my favorite kind of playdate!
This weekend wasn't all about playdates, however. It was also about snow preparations. I reserved ski school and lodging for a trip in March, bought ski boots, and went ice-skating.
But it was freakin' 80 degrees out today!! This weather sucks!! It's clear, warm, balmy, fragrant, absolutely stellarly beautiful. California doesn't get better than this -- in May. It's February! It was 60 in Tahoe today! Lovely, great, but I WANT SNOW. Where are the clouds, the storms, the cold?! I'm not sure it makes sense to even attempt skiing this weekend -- this is warmer than the slushy "spring skiing" in April, which is only for the hardcore.
And it's not just the snow either. Dave doesn't really want to expend the effort next weekend for a one-day trip, understandable -- but that means I get a day to myself with just my boys. Those are the most wonderful times for me -- so do a snow dance for me and hope that this extraordinary weather doesn't put the kibosh on an extraordinary time!