Reading War and Peace at Chuck E. Cheese

My husband took the older two boys to Texas this weekend for a Texas A&M football game. This is a near-annual pilgrimage for them, and they got to see several other Aggie relatives while there.

This meant I was here with the three younger kids. It was not the most relaxing weekend ever. The toddler was up before 6 a.m. both mornings, as he had been the previous two mornings during the week when my husband was traveling, and I was feeling a bit…done…on the early morning toddler entertainment front. He is enamored with the Jimmy Fallon board books (Everything is Mama and Your Baby’s First Word Will be Dada) and wants them read over and over again. I also spent a lot of my toddler-free time (when he was sleeping, or when my almost 10-year-old daughter was watching TV with him) cleaning up the house in advance of the listing photos.

However…there has been progress there. Several rooms are less than 5 minutes away from being photographable (personal stuff/functional stuff like waste baskets would just need to be pulled out). This includes the bar kitchen in the basement which has been covered for years by the remnants of those horrible little “find the dinosaur fossil” type kits where you pound at plaster and make dust.

There were also a few nice moments. I took the three kids for a short hike on Saturday morning before various sports, and it was lovely to see the early fall color. I ordered in sushi for myself Saturday night, and enjoyed that. Sunday, I had a few hours of coverage for the toddler, so I could do some birthday stuff for the soon-to-be-10-year-old (with her 6-year-old brother in tow). We ate at Olive Garden — her request — and then went to Chuck E. Cheese’s.

Since the space is contained and the kids didn’t really need me, I sat at a booth and read my daily chapter in War and Peace. It was quite the juxtaposition. Tolstoy opens many sections of the book with a discussion of how individual choice isn’t shaping history nearly to the extent that much “Great Man” theorizing claims. Perhaps. It’s curious to think what forces beyond my individual choice led me to be sitting there in the booth, with one eye on my son, who was using his unlimited play pass to hone his skill at the claw machine. By the time we left he had won 8 small bouncy balls, which I could not help but see as just more stuff to be moved. At least he was happy about it!

The big boys all came home around 6:30, at which point we had a birthday dinner, and later cake and presents. In a very on-brand moment, my daughter had let me know which kind of wrapping paper she wanted her presents wrapped in. So I obliged, and made sure to use the bows that were tonally matched. In life, I suppose it is good to ask for what you want.

Now it is nearly noon on Monday morning. I have not followed my own advice at all, and have spent the morning clearing the decks of various things instead of doing my main task for the day, which is revising chapter 3 in Tranquility by Tuesday. But! Onward. It will get done by the end of the day.

Photo: Living his best life

8 thoughts on “Reading War and Peace at Chuck E. Cheese

  1. I’m planning to use a serial ap to read The Count of Monte Cristo next year. Those big old classics really intimidate me, but I’ve been told that the serial ap makes them much more digestible – and I’ve heard this from someone who doesn’t tend to LOVE classics (I find myself in that camp most of the time).

    Our kids were both STTN but they’ve both been waking up for the last 6-8 weeks due to a combination of colds, and for the baby, regressions and teething I think? They are 3.5 and 10m – I didn’t think I’d still be getting up for the 3.5 at this point, but parenting is full of surprises both good and not so good. 😉

    Glad you are getting closer to getting the house in listing condition. We had a tiny house to list when we sold 2 years ago and I still kind of cringe to think of how much work it was!!

  2. What a rich and full life you have! As a newly retired 68-year old, it sounds daunting but I did live that life a few decades ago and it was amazing, As I settle into this new routine, it is also amazing but so different. I thought I would volunteer all over town, but after almost a year, I am content to be mostly home. In good time, I’ll reach out. Two thoughts—I notice and applaud your persistence in claiming time for essential personal projects such as reading, singing in the choir (singers MUST sing!) and running, It is so easy to set these personal pursuits aside when schedules are tight, but you continue to model to us that it can be done (even at Chuck E Cheese!) My other thought is one of gratitude—I have read about your family for years now and I am grateful that you share so much with your readers. Thank you so much!

  3. I loathe those small bouncy balls! Eight is a nightmare.

    They seem to come home in every single birthday treat bag. The kids fight over them (but then never actually play with them), and they have no practical use in the confined space of a home (too small, get lost, could break things).

    I had my daughter put hers inside a clear glass container with other paraphernalia (much of it also from birthday party loot bags), and it looks cute on her bookshelf. But still. Can’t we come up with better uses for plastic/rubber?!?!

    Gold star for reading War and Peace at Chuck E. Cheese. Also, I love when you say you don’t take your own advice. It makes me feel so much better for writing a single cheque when I know I should be batching them all at month end…sometimes you just gotta do what you gotta do.

    Onward indeed.

  4. Three cheers for the reading. I agree with your other reading theory that you have to have plenty of what you want to read. Between a desirable stack and redefining sports practice times and other spaces in my life, I’m reading plenty and enjoying it!

  5. Absolutely love the title of this blog post and think that is basically encompasses everything your work has taught me! There are so many ways that kids AND parents can both get the time and the space to do things we both love, even inside of a very full life!

  6. I like your kid dictating what paper her presents should be wrapped in. I am always a bit disappointed when I receive a gift that is not wrapped or that is really carelessly wrapped so I sense a kindred spirit here. 🙂
    I find that kind of kid place like Chuckie Cheese quite relaxing now that my kids are bigger. They can play by themselves and I can get a coffee and read a book. It usually feels quite well worth the price for an hour or two where they are really entertained and I get to chill.

  7. Laura, have you also been interspersing other books/reading material while reading War and Peace this year or have you just dedicated the year to War and Peace?

    1. @Emily – yep I have been reading other things, though not much fiction. Reading a chapter of War and Peace each day really only takes 5-10 minutes (they are short!) so there is definitely space for reading other things. But I haven’t wanted to get very invested in other characters, so focusing on non-fiction for my non W&P reading.

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