I had big plans for today. Huge plans in fact. In a very basic sense I accomplished them all. But it felt like failing over and over again.
Yesterday we took down the playset, with the assurance that we could still go to the park when we wanted to swing or play on the monkey bars. “Like tomorrow”, Little Sister asked. Of course, we could make that happen! Today at 6:15 a.m. she started to get ready for the park.
I had also promised, make that capital P-romised my girls that I would take them to the summer movies. I hope you have movie theaters that participate in this in your area, but the gist of it is theaters will run movies that are a few years old – charging one dollar a person with a percentage of proceeds going to charity. I think the program is great for getting little ones to adjust to being in a movie theater without the pressure of being surrounded by patrons who shelled out fifty dollars. Or for people who never got around to seeing those movies when they came out, or when they were available at Redbox, and maybe by chance didn’t get around to seeing them on Netflix either. (We exist). This week is the last week to attend the summer movies, and being a woman of my word we were clearly going.
This would be inexpensive in addition to being hugely convenient as the theater is adjacent to our local mall. I tend to wait until the week or so before school starts before back to school clothes shopping (my kids can’t be the only ones who grow exponentially in the summer, can they?). I am guilty of participating in the worst of mom faux offenses – including packing a lunch for our day out and even bringing snacks in my bag. (I know, I know)…As we settled in our seats, we heard the usual parent-child quarrels over where to sit, how to sit, why you shouldn’t lick the seat (no lie)and my personal favorite – the Dad who told his daughter they didn’t sell popcorn at this movie theater.
After the movie (two bathroom breaks during the film) and four stores with multiple dressing room visits, we had almost finished clothes shopping. Typically we shoot for two school weeks’ worth of options. I am not sure what the standard is, if there is one, so maybe we under prepared but that is about the amount that lasts before they outgrow it all. I tried to be patient and helpful when they debated between the ultra-light light blue and mid-light light blue polos. I let them try on the shoes that I knew wouldn’t fit so they could see it for themselves. Four hours after we had arrived, we left our parking space.
But we still needed pants and socks and underwear as well as the books that had come into the library and then there was the park issue. We drove home for a second lunch and to let the dog out with my hope that the kids would call it and want to stay home. It was drizzling and overcast, but I had used my screen-trance points at the movie theater already. So we took off for the rest of our errands (more dressing rooms involved) and pulled up to the park as it was fully raining. This did not deter us. We went down the slides and swung and climbed and fell on our hands and knees and got drenched through our underwear. And just in case this montage left you thinking I was the best mom ever with kids who adored my spunk and dedication to their happiness, let me unveil the truth.
They were reluctant to leave, and disappointed we didn’t stay longer. They were soaked and tired and questioned my authority to parent (mostly by way of Big Sister’s forlorn gaze out of her window and soliloquy on “best choices” and “slides going much faster when they are wet”). I played my trump card – breakfast for dinner! I cried.
This is usually high comfort food (and somewhat of a culinary cop out in my hands) for us, and as I drove home in the rain (in wet underwear), I thought of warm showers and filling their bellies with waffles and eggs and clinking glasses of orange juice (and honestly I pictured confetti and them clasping their little fists across their bodies, pivoting at the elbows almost like holding a baseball bat, cheering me on).What happened was gluten free waffles that were universally rejected, slightly overcooked scrambled eggs and yielding to the requests of bagels and cream cheese. There was orange juice involved and that is the important part.
Much later, after the clothes were hung up and socks, shoes and underwear were all put away we watched a movie (hmmm, I should probably pretend this is a horrific amount of screen time for one day) about four friends in the summer before middle school (there are a surprising amount of movies in this genre). One of the girls along with her mother and brother were living in their car, another girl had a brother returning from war with physical and emotional injuries, and the other two girls faced trying familial situations as well. All of which lent itself to lots of questions and good discussions about gratitude and everyone’s journey.
I carried Little Sister to bed and spent another thirty minutes reading to and talking with big sister. She told me that she was glad that we got so much done in one day and she was grateful to have a house and a family. “Daddy is so funny and nice and he teaches me so much” she said, “and you, you are always around”. It should have probably felt like a consolation compliment, but I took it anyway. There was comfort in knowing that they know we love them and support them and I thought that was the lesson that seems to be rolling out for me now that I am open to it. “You should go write now, Mom, it’s important too and not just cause Dad says so”, she added “and I can come and find you if I need you”.
I guess that is just a perk of my always being around.