It was a four day weekend here in Canadaland, meaning schools kindly refused to admit our children on Friday and Monday under the pretense of ‘developing their teachers’ and ‘celebrating Queen Victoria’.
Long weekends bring out the worst in our family of five, as we – paralyzed by the absence of routine – flounder about, passing time while managing to do absolutely nothing.
There’s the good kind of ‘nothing.’ The relaxing, ‘I read a whole book today’, nothing. Or ‘the kids spent all day playing outside,’ nothing. And then there’s the Johnson nothing. Where time passes at a snail’s pace, the house is unnavigable and the children argue whilst running around the house building walls of pillows in the hallway.
And then, not-so-suddenly, it’s 8pm and somebody’s whining that ‘we never ate dinner’. And you realize they’re sort of right – that the three tiny pizzas you’d managed to churn out at 5.30 probably didn’t constitute ‘dinner’ in the traditional sense of the word. And, seemingly out of nowhere, you and your husband both say awesome things like ‘well, just think about the people in the world who don’t get enough to eat,’ and as the words exit your mouth you really can’t believe that you’ve turned into that parent.
But you just need the day to be done which is why you think a grumbling belly is not an opportunity for the tenth snack of the day, but a chance for a teachable moment…..about the global issue of starvation.
Much like the moment when you’re all gathered around the table, and someone is crying because someone else is looking at him, and you notice your better half looks like he wants to poke his eyes out with a straw, and once again the words just leave your mouth as you muse out loud: ‘so there’s marriage, which is awesome, and then there’s parenthood, which is equally awesome and then you combine the two and call it family.’
Like I said, where prolonged periods of familial togetherness are concerned, we Johnsons are sprinters rather than long-distance runners. Give us an hour or two and we can cross the proverbial finish line semi-victoriously.
But give us four days and we start preaching to our children about people starving in Africa. Which causes the Gort to say ‘well, maybe if they can just sleep near an apple tree, they can eat some of the apples.’ And you pause, speechless, imagining lush apple trees dotting the vast grassy expanse that is the African savanna.
To our credit, we tried to pass the time somewhat constructively. There was ‘Brother’s Day’ on Friday. It’s an invented holiday that happens after Mother’s Day. Because the Hen, upon learning about Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, asked ‘why isn’t there Brother’s Day?’
Brother’s Day consisted of eating ginger cake for breakfast and going to the library with the professor. There was also talk of a Brother’s Day salute. ‘Let’s make a brother’s day salute,’ the professor tried to rally his boy-children. ‘How about we fart then high-five,’ the Gort suggested.
This might explain why I ran from the house seeking solace at a yoga class of all places. After an hour and twenty minutes of bending in all sorts of hideous ways, the ballerina-esque instructor ordered us to lie on our backs with a wooden rectangle wedged between our sacrum and the mat.
‘You might have to fiddle a bit to find that sweet spot, but once you do, it feels like heaven,’ she did her best to encourage those of us less than enthused about depositing the base of our spine upon a piece of wood.
I couldn’t help but think, ‘if this is heaven I’m, frankly, disappointed.’
On Sunday, the professor and I tried to reclaim portions of our sanity by taking turns leaving the house for an extended walk. He returned from his excursion about an hour later, having met an elderly neighbor named Pat. He’d just sat down when the bickering started up again. ‘So Pat invited me to tea,’ he lied. And I rolled my eyes at his amateur attempt to get out of the house.
Minutes later he tried again. ‘So I have a meeting tomorrow.’ I stared back. ‘It’s a holiday, I highly doubt you have a meeting.’ Desperate, he kept going, ‘we’re meeting with the Victorians?’
Sign me up.
On Monday, we opted to ‘meet with the Victorians’ at Edworthy Park. We had a picnic and played soccer and the boys waded along the shore of the Bow in rubber boots.
It was all going relatively well, so we continued Victoria Day 2012 and drove to North Glenmore Park. We grabbed our tennis rackets and tried to be the-family-who-plays-tennis together. Despite the fact that there are five of us and the youngest member of our clan is 2 and using a racket that is bigger than he is. And also the professor and I haven’t swung our rackets in four years.
It was a comical sight, I’m sure. Just as we’d gotten into a semblance of a groove, the Hen announced he had to go to the bathroom.
Wimbledon will have to wait another year.