I should preface what I’m about to say by mentioning that the week before last, as in the second week we were home from the journey-that-shall-not-be-named, I was ready to pull my hair out. Having concluded through experience that there is, in fact, such a thing as too much familytogetherness and we’d vastly exceeded the limit.
As is my modus operandi, I had returned to the land where you wear jeans in August with nothing resembling a plan for how to spend the remaining 5 weeks of summer. I had not enrolled my boys in camps. I had not signed them up for tennis lessons. I did not have a babysitter on retainer.
It was just me. And them. Allthetime. (And we’d already spent all of July basking in each other’s company, not to mention eight verylong days carping in our stagger wagon.)
And then, glory be, I saw one of those ubiquitous-in-Calgary, black-with-neon-letter signs, in a park near my house; announcing the City’s ‘Park ‘n play’ program happening at the field by the boys’ school from August 19-23. Meaning, I could take the two older boys to the park and leave them there (under teenaged supervision) for a period of time.
On Monday morning, as the 10am drop-off time approached, I announced to my troops, still wearing their pajamas, that there was a new gig in town. ‘You’re going to Park ‘n Play today,’ I delivered the news. And, I won’t lie, they weren’t thrilled. They protested as though they’d spent all of summer in Donald Trump’s Entrepreneur Camp and I’d taken their one unscheduled day from them.
They were still balking about this unexpected turn of events; this kink in their laze-around-the-house-all-day-long lifestyle, as we crossed the field, mere yards from the sign-in tent.
‘I need a break,’ I finally told them, ‘and don’t you guys want a break from me?’ The Gort thought it over, ‘yeah, I guess it would be nice to get a break from Miss Meanie.’
Exactly! Oh, wait, a minute…..
‘I’ll pick you up in two hours,’ I promised. (Even though the program runs for 5.) And that is precisely what I did, for five gloriously consecutive days; giving each of us just a hint of space, a glimpse of life beyond the beige-with-pink-undertones walls of our abode.
With a relatively empty house, I was able to clean a bit, temporarily enrol Percy in a much-needed, mother-led tantrum boot camp, and breathe a bit. The boys made a few friends, and played games, and got their much-needed break from Miss Meanie.
The little bit of space made it that much easier to appreciate the little bits of awesome that are all around (but easy to overlook when
I’m we’re living in a state of perpetual annoyance).
The way the older boys hold hands whenever they walk side-by-side. Across the field to the Park ‘n Play program, across the parking lot to the bookstore, back to the car after throwing rocks at Edworthy Park, to the washroom in Target…..it rarely fails to make me smile, (or wish I had a smartphone with a decent camera so I could record this undoubtedly short-lived phase of their relationship.) Sometimes, as though they’ve suddenly remembered they’re boys, they’ll yank each other’s arms all crazy-like, perhaps to appear more masculine, but their hands remain entwined.
The way they play cooperatively (sometimes). The Gort (sometimes) playing the part of thoughtful, caring older brother: fixing his brothers’ Lego structures, giving Percy piggyback rides and speaking to them in a tone that exemplifies calm and patience. And the other two (sometimes) playing the part of admiring, eager-to-impress, younger brother(s); asking for his help and telling him stories; clamoring for his praise or his interest.
All of it reminding me that, right now, we’re in this ‘sweet spot’ as someone once called it, this moment in our little family’s life where there’s a sense of equilibrium. The boys, relatively independent though still quite dependent in many ways, are generally satisfied with having each other for company, with being at home, and with having us as parents.
We’re living in a sweet, small window of time before adolescence begins, and friends and other interests take center stage; before the separation process begins in earnest, and I know I will remember this time well.