We just survived a 3-day weekend. While 3-day weekends imply relaxation, for our demographic it implies three days with no school or other such breaks. We were also trying to do a few summer things before summer was over, but so was everyone else on the East Coast, and the weather was not 100% cooperative either.
So…not relaxing. One major source of stress: deciding where to go each morning. In general, I try to plan weekends ahead of time so we don’t have these morning showdowns. My reasoning: getting out the door already takes effort. Adding decision-making to the mix makes the whole enterprise even more fraught. We had planned to do Hershey Park on Saturday, but when we re-checked the weather forecast that morning, it had suddenly become rainy all day. That meant the entire universe of day trips was open again, or at least those involving some indoor component, and everyone had an opinion, and several children screamed that if they had to do what their brother/sister was requesting they would be furious for the rest of their lives (we have some dramatic sorts around here).
Eventually we decided to go to the Crayola Experience in Easton, which was fine, except it was mobbed, since everyone else thought “Hey, fun rainy day activity!” We spent two hours there, then I wanted to grab some food from the famous (and historic!) Easton Farmers Market nearby, but when we exited the Crayola place around 1:30 we discovered the market must have closed at 1 p.m. So we found a Mexican place nearby, which was pretty decent, and our kids were not bad. We have started taking the big kids out to eat every other Friday night (now that we have regular childcare then) and they are getting better at it. The 2-year-old was entertained by the chips for a while. Then less so. We escaped to go for a walk along the Delaware canal trail.
Alas, this was pretty much pure torture. The path runs between the canal and the Delaware river, and the 2-year-old kept running up to one edge or the other. He grabbed sticks and used them to dislodge rocks from the trail to throw at people. Meanwhile the other 3 children would drift far apart from each other, so there was a certain resemblance to herding cats. We made it 2.5 miles, but we’re going to need to make significant progress if we plan to hike a lot out west during the summer of 2018 (our current vacation plan).
Sunday we avoided the morning planning/scream-fest, because we knew we wanted to go to Hershey. Again, unfortunately, so did everyone else in the state of Pennsylvania. We were in 45-minute lines for several rides, including the Cocoa Cruiser. On some level, the Cocoa Cruiser was fun, as it was my 2-year-old’s first roller coaster. He’s growing up! He was tall enough to be the “Hershey Kisses” height level so he could go on actual rides. But oh, the 45-minute line! I entertained myself by noting that I was being out-parented by an 11-year-old boy in front of me, whose adult had given him his 2-year-old sister, and then disappeared. He was so lovingly helping the little girl climb on the railing and look around, and then when he saw my 2-year-old start to fight with her over a chain they were both trying to grab on the fence, he deftly made sure he was always standing between her and my kid. Ah… A few Hershey highlights: the big kids and I won our round of the Reese’s Extreme Cup Challenge, because I have a secret talent for arcade style games. We went on the lazy river, which was cold, but nice, at least until the 7-year-old fell off his tube and got completely wet, at which point the fact that we were in 72 degree water and in 69 degree air caught up with him. He was shaking by the time I got him to his towel. We got home at 9 p.m., and with the little kids in bed, proceeded to watch the Texas A&M football game. I went to bed at the (DVR’d) halftime, thinking all was great since the Aggies were up 38-10. In the morning my husband informed me they’d actually managed to lose. He was agitated, but at least I enjoyed the half of the game I watched (and the nachos and chicken wings we made).
Monday we had talked about going to the beach, because it was finally going to be a nice day: 80-plus degrees and sunny. But we also realized that if the crowds were bad at Hershey on Sunday they might be even worse on the Jersey shore on the last day of summer. We also knew that the kids weren’t too big on going to the beach. So at breakfast we had the kids all calmly (or as calmly as possible) say what they wanted to do. The 10-year-old requested Dutch Wonderland, but I told him after Hershey that was right out. They settled on going to the local park and playing and then having a picnic. This was mostly nice — beautiful weather, happy kids — until we spread the picnic blanket and the food. The 2-year-old started throwing everyone’s shoes and water bottles. We kind of let him wander off, and then as we were sitting there eating our sandwiches he reappeared, and threw something on the blanket. I looked. It was dried up dog poop. I kid you not. I feel like this is kind of a metaphor for what he sometimes does with family activities.
After the dog poop incident, when he finally went down for a nap, I decided not to wake him up, even if he slept long (meaning if might be hard for him to go down at night). I took an hour-long nap, I finished Out of Africa (the book I was reading – mixed feelings on that one), and then we went for a swim in the pool with the big kids. The last felt a little sneaky, as I know the 2-year-old would have liked to swim but oh well. He got up when we got out of the pool, and I played a lot with him during the evening while the big kids made s’mores in the fire pit with my husband. When I had my full attention on him (not sharing it with the other 3 kids), he was very sweet. Maybe in his mind he’s an only child. He was throwing dog poop on the picnic blanket to get rid of the interlopers.
My husband and I finished the weekend with a long planning session, looking at all the upcoming dates with school, travel, etc. This is sometimes stressful, but as it was our actual anniversary we were both perhaps a bit more generous. It was good we did it. We saw plenty of things that could be issues. Since I know I’m traveling on my daughter’s birthday, he blocked the afternoon so he can go visit her class and read the story (and maybe lead the activity! I look forward to seeing what craft he will choose!). I didn’t go to bed until midnight. That made the 5:45 a.m. screams of “Mommy! Open my door!” a bit hard to take, but I’m mostly functional (I think). I got the two older boys on the bus for the first day of school! The 2-year-old was out to wave goodbye. Then he decided to run down the driveway and sure enough, took a face plant that left his lip swollen. When I told him that it really didn’t work to have a Band-aid on his lip, this just left him even madder. Sigh.
How was your Labor Day weekend?
In other news: Episode 5 of the Best of Both Worlds podcast is live! I’ll start a thread later this week to discuss the topic, which is the mental load of parenting.
Photo: Delaware river, from the tow path. Looks peaceful, but wasn’t.