Quinlan, age 11, is on the couch, playing a game on her new Nintendo. I’ve just asked Cian, newly age 9, to start a load of his laundry. “What?!” he says. “How do I do that??” Me, calm: “Cian. You do laundry all the time. …
It’s the second day back to school–back to “normal,” I guess?–after the winter holiday break. Saoirse and Cian are in school but Quinlan is lying on the couch next to me in the living room, watching Netflix (Alexa & Katie is really cute, by the …
Are there any family activities your children absolutely refuse to do with you? I’ll give you a hint what ours is.
A couple weeks ago, on a late afternoon after the Saturday soccer/errands run, I suggested to David that we go for a quick hike on a mountain trail that’s about ten minutes from our house. Before I could even ask the kids to join us, Quinlan called out from another room.
“PLEASE do not make us do that with you.”
We went alone.
This past Saturday, on a dinner out with our neighbors, one of our friends suggested that our three families take the trip up to Ricketts Glen State Park, which is a hike I’ve always wanted to do after seeing photos of its beautiful waterfalls. When I mentioned it afterward to Quinlan, she just went, “Nope.”
The next day, in the car with Saoirse, I brought it up again. I talked about the streams and the waterfalls, and the neat experience of hiking with friends. She groaned in only the way a beloved teenager can (three syllables, eye roll, extra-slouchy slump into the passenger seat followed by a giggle).
“MOM,” she groan-said. “How is that fun? Why would we do that when we could go mini-golfing, or go-carting, or anything else other than hiking? There are BUGS in nature, Mom. Spiders and bugs and scary things THAT ARE LIVING that creep around in the woods. How can you call that FUN?”
I dropped the subject.
Because I’m stubborn, though, I brought it up later with Cian. “Hey, buddy! How would like you like to go hiking sometime with our friends?”
Cian shrugged his shoulders. “Fine,” he said. “If we have to.”
I think we’re going to go ahead and try to plan the trip.
I just know the kids will love it.
Here are a few lessons I’ve learned over this Pandemic Thanksgiving + start of Covid Christmastime:
On the Wednesday before your it’s-just-us-this-year Thanksgiving, it’s really nice to cook the big meal with your kids while also not stressing about cleaning the house for company. You’ll miss the family you won’t be seeing, of course, but you will absolutely appreciate the calm. And the discovery that your twelve-year-old likes to chop vegetables.
On Thanksgiving Day, have dinner late so you can make a charcuterie board for lunch. No one will be upset about this.
On that Friday, clean the house in the morning before you start pulling out all the decorations. Yes, you’re still going to have to vacuum up the needles after all is said and done, but you can’t beat decking the halls when they’re already sparkly. (Also, somebody spilled cranberry sauce on the floor yesterday. You have to get out the mop, anyway.)
On that Saturday, there’s no shame in counting a masked-up early-morning trip to Lowe’s with your spouse to buy Christmas lights as a date. Well, maybe a little shame, but run with it anyway. You don’t get out much anymore.
On the first Sunday of Advent, know that hunting for a Christmas tree is like finding the perfect wedding dress: just buy the first one you fall in love with. Even if, um, it ends up being a bit too small, it’s still pretty.
On that Monday, or any day this season, take some time to spend with each of your children individually. Saoirse and I went shopping early today, before the crowds descended, for a gift for her to give her sister and brother. We were out for a total of an hour and a half, but she loved it. I loved it. Granted, she’s been basically nowhere since the pandemic started and would’ve been happy to have gone with me to fill up the car with gas, but, just like Lowe’s dates with your spouse: take the quality time where you can get it.
Today is the last day of Thanksgiving break for the kids. As I type this, they’re playing together upstairs (actually, I think they’ve moved on to their devices now, which is probably why the house is so quiet). It’s rainy here, and the fireplace is going, and our Tiny Tree has lights on it but will get its ornaments another day (we have many, many unscheduled days to fill between now and Christmas, you guys).
We’re about to enter a month of uncertainty (are coronavirus cases going to continue to surge?…the kids are in school, but will they continue?…should we still shovel the driveway if it snows since we don’t really go anywhere anyway?), but I’m through worrying about it. Quinlan loves to bake and wants to learn how to separate an egg yolk from its white. Saoirse, my budding interior designer, says she’ll organize Cian’s room with him. David has a list of new recipes he wants to tackle, things that involve fenugreek and mustard seeds, because he has the time to try them.
We have time now. Especially because it won’t take us any of it at all to decorate that shrub we brought home from the tree farm.
It’s 7:15 on Sunday morning. I’ve just sat down on the couch with a newspaper and the first, and therefore most precious, cup of coffee of the day. Cian’s already here in the living room playing, and he abandons his toys when I sit to …