I am not used to having blank days on my schedule, so it came as some surprise to have two days this weekend. I had no interviews scheduled, no copy deadlines, no appointments, carpools or meetings. I had two days – completely unscheduled days – at my disposal, and I didn’t know exactly what to do with them.
So I told my kids we would go to the park and fulfill some of my son’s Cub Scout requirements. The girls were nearly as excited as he was, since they still love the park. It is only a few miles away, but it sometimes seems to be impossible to get there.
I told them that he would plan a picnic for us, lead us on a nature walk and work on some activities like playing soccer and baseball. He was quite excited to be “in charge” of our food and games.
He packed a picnic based on all four food groups – minus the dairy that he and his sister are allergic to – and crossed each item off the list he had made. He gathered the sports equipment and then loaded the car. He was, like a true Scout, always prepared.
On our walk, he led us under gates and up ladders. We went down slides (and fire poles) and swung on monkey bars. We rode rocking horses, some of us looking quite a bit ridiculous as we tried to put our feet into the proper places and keep balance at the same time. The kids found my demeanor (read: discomfort) very amusing.
We looked at historical monuments and talked about their significance. We picked up litter and discussed respecting our environment.
We played baseball, during which time I was all-time pitcher and nearly had my head taken off by a line drive hit by my oldest daughter. We played soccer, during which time I nearly did a complete split attempting some fancy footwork on the ball. It was exciting and exhausting all at once.
After we had played both soccer and baseball, I surprised all of the kids with a trip to the movie theater. We saw “The Croods,” which featured a caveman family that, we decided, was a lot like our very own modern-day family, both in their disagreements between and their love for one another. All three kids kept reaching out, attempting to touch the bits of 3-D magic that seemed to be mere inches from our faces. It was a pretty cool, albeit pricey, experience.
On my second day off, I taught my son to ride his bike with no training wheels. It took him less than a half an hour to get the handle of balancing and pedaling. His starting and turning still need some work, but he’ll get it, I’m sure. Then the girls came out and rode with us, racing past one another and splashing through puddles. We were all muddy messes by the time it was over, but it was well worth it. We changed clothes and cuddled together watching a movie with my husband once he was free from chores.
It was one of the best weekends we have had in a long time, and it reminded me to be thankful for my many blessings.
Laura Zoeller can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.