My husband was gone over the weekend, so I was mostly managing the kids solo. We did all right. I took all five to the Adventure Aquarium in Camden on Saturday and returned with all five of them, so I’m counting that as a victory.
I skipped some of the kids’ activities, but my 6-year-old loves his rock climbing class, so I left the big three home and took the baby with me. We spent much of the time walking around the nearby office park parking lots. This was not exactly the most naturally pretty setting. Think piles of dirty snow, mud, the nearby train tracks.
But, as we walked toward the back of a restaurant, I saw a sign on the driveway over a creek: Swan crossing. Swan crossing? We walked closer and, sure enough, two gorgeous white birds floated toward us. We stood on that bridge and watched them for a long time — their sleek necks darting under the surface again and again, the contrast of orange beak and black patches on white feathers. They were utterly mesmerizing — so beautiful. While the world will be beautiful in three weeks, right now, one expects to look harder for beauty. And there it was, gratuitously.
After a while, we walked back to the gym and went inside to check on my other little guy. As I pushed the stroller in, I saw him, high above everyone else, a few feet from the top of one of the harder walls. This last little bit required some care. He weighed his choices. He swung a foot out wide, hoisted himself up. One more quick fit of fancy foot work. He reached out, tapped the top and howled in victory. I watched him descend down the wall. As he stepped out of the harness, he began running around in circles, pumping his fist in the air and saying “Hallelujah! Hallelujah!”
I have no idea why he chose that word of praise, but hey, it made me laugh. And so while there were a number of frustrations this weekend and some bleary moments when the baby woke too early and I knew sleep would be a long time coming, the image of swans and a little boy’s joy stand out. Over time, I suspect those will be what I remember.
In other news: I’m working on an article on how families are navigating the return to “normal” and negotiating new demands on their time. If you’re newly back in the office, or your kids have started up full-time schooling again I’d love to hear how you’ve changed things as a result of a year of schedules looking different. As always, you can email me at lvanderkam at yahoo dot com.
Photo: The image I’m seeing a lot these days — the toddler’s boots…