I wasn’t the worst parent in the world yesterday, and I say that for my own benefit.
My kids were fed, safe, received love and attention, exercised and read, and in general, they — and I — have nothing to complain about. But I did complain yesterday, and so did they.
It rained for the entire day, more inches than our community is used to, and in an historic move, the public schools closed for the day.
We parents were notified about the school closure at about 5 pm the previous day. I happened to be at a party with numerous parents of school-aged children, and we all looked at each other wide-eyed as the news circulated through the room. “School is closed tomorrow.” Everyone was thinking the same thing, and it wasn’t Hooray!
I fancy myself a pretty creative parent. I have kicked the ass of a sick day upon occasion with slime-making, geocaching, costume play, and more.
But yesterday, I did nothing to be proud of.
I suggested art supplies, LEGOs, board games, dolls, board games, art supplies, and LEGOs. My children rejected my suggestions, and then we engaged in a repetitive cycle of them finding things to do for a short, happy spurt of time; the activity deteriorating into bickering; and then bored flailing bodies coming at me for attention and approval, followed by me barking off the same list of activities, “Play a game! Get your Calico Critters out! How about Lite Brite? DRAW A PICTURE FOR THE LOVE OF GOD!”
My husband was out of town on business and did not share in the joy of our special rain day.
After a few hours of wondering if it was safe to drive, and deciding it was not, we traipsed around the block to investigate the puddles. There was some whining. They made a zillion videos on the iPad. We did a 19-minute On Demand exercise video together. I tried to write a post for Lifetime Moms while they looked up mini-figures online. The hours trickled by.
We did not make a fantastic blanket fort, produce any handmade holiday ornaments, or invent a new flavor of Rice Krispie treats, such as Salted Caramel Pumpkin Spice or Bacon, Fig, and Blue Cheese. I don’t keep marshmallows on-hand in case school is cancelled.
Every hour I texted my husband or Heather or Wendy to vent my frustration and boredom.
By 4 pm, I needed an excuse to order dinner delivered to my door. I invited The Aunties, my college roommate and her wife who are childless, to join us for Indian take-out. (Yes, my kids will eat Indian food. No, they will not eat common American kid things like hamburgers or lasagna. Yes, the Bay Area is exciting that way.)
The Aunties had to work from home for the day and live just a few blocks away. At dinnertime, my friends arrived with their enormous dog and my kids found a new audience for their pent-up energy. I felt better with my friends around and enjoyed our Chicken Tikka Masala feast.
When The Aunties left and the kids put on their jammies, we sat in my bed to read. There were no more hours to count down. The final stretch was completely pleasant.
I wasn’t mad at the kids, but I was disappointed with myself for not having created a magical, memorable day.
I am capable of awesome-mom-ness. Aren’t I?
My husband arrived home from New York around midnight. I sensed him climb into bed and threw my arm over his waist before falling more deeply asleep.
This morning, we had some extra time before the children had to leave for school. (It’s open today!) I sat down in our playroom and started sorting through some toys, holding things up, asking the kids if they still want to own this puzzle or that one. Every item whose value I questioned became immediately of interest, and ten minutes later, they were both happily engaged in non-electronic toys from their own collections, giving my husband the impression that this is how we spent yesterday, tinkering on the floor of the playroom, content with each other’s company.
I felt pouty. Why didn’t I think of this yesterday, I wondered. I KNOW that the best way to get them interested in a project is to get down on the floor and just start DOING it.
Saying, “Do you guys want to draw a map of our neighborhood on this posterboard?” always gets a “No.” But if I draw a huge line across the paper and say, “I’m drawing Sacramento Street,” they might come say, “You need more trees.”
Starting a big puzzle guarantees they will join me.
Building a marble track invites them to go find all the marbles in the house in a way that asking, “How about a big marble track?” does not.
I’m putting a mental pin in that. I’ll probably need it again.