Alright, I’ll admit it, we’ve been bored. What am I doing wrong here? We have the scheduled activities, the swim lessons that eat up the better part of the morning, with bike riding and snacks included. And this afternoon we have the playdates to coincide with naptime. We have the free play, open permission to upturn chairs and couch cushions, to layer blankets, to strew about toys. We have library books. We have siblings. We have bread baking mornings and cookie baking afternoons. We have an enviable backyard. We have day trips planned and accomplished. And yet, and yet … We have back-talking, complaints about the service and the food, we have biting and kicking and general restless rolling about, we have nagging and ignoring and tears. I wonder how homeschoolers manage this. In theory, I’m all for a bit of necessary boredom. In theory, it should push us toward creative solutions; and sometimes does nudge the children toward playing together, and making up their own games; but just as often, in practice, boredom seems to breed conflict. It’s like, with nothing better to occupy the human mind, inventing some trouble is a satisfying interim solution. I see this played out in miniature all day long, and frankly, it grows a little tiresome. Can’t we all just get along? I ask. And am treated to, at best, blank stares, and at worst, piercing moans of misery, wails of “it’s not fair.”
On a separate but not unrelated note, in reflecting on our recent family “holiday,” I’d like to use my friend Marnie’s rather brilliant phrase: such adventures shouldn’t so much be called family holidays, as family “experiences.” Yup. That about sums it up. “Holiday” is a word overloaded with expectations, none of which are remotely fulfillable with four children in tow. (Relaxing, rejuvenating, restful … uh, no, no, and no). “Experience” on the other hand … now that’s the truth! And it’s not a bad thing, either, the family experience, especially when it’s not trying to be something it’s not. Our recent family experience was all the things you might expect it to be: busy, rife with detours, noisy, active, mosquito-bitten, containing mysterious ailments, brief respites, good food, necessary disciplinary tactics, all in all a touch of the arduous and a touch more of ardour. Good times.
I’ve been writing this whilst overseeing two playdates, ear to the naptime baby monitor, bread baking in the oven, and my interruptions have included: tossing snacks at hungry children, sandbox mediation, and a young man in construction garb at the front door to inform me our water will be shut off for the better part of tomorrow and Friday.
Have been worrying about how I’m going to balance the multiple demands of that delicate witching hour, 4-5, now that the weather is gorgeous and my toddler wants to play outside with the big kids. Can’t be in two places at once. Well, this may be my fate (and our neighbours’): me shouting every minute and a half out the open windows, “Who can see CJ??” Thank heavens for good fences.
On the other hand, my shouting is probably the least of our neighbours’ noise concerns, given the cacophony of construction orchestration going on outside our front door. This is the clearly marked “Road Closed” sign, which I ran out just now to photograph because it WILL NOT LAST. In fact, Kev informs me that the line-up of pylons has already been dismantled by some enterprising driver in a hurry. I am striving not to let it bug me lest I morph into one of our neighbours, whom I shall refer to as The Mayor of W Street, who lives to be the bearer of bad news, and is on a quest to smite those who commit all and any minor by-law and traffic infractions. He’s also sometimes generous, and this afternoon left for us, without a word of explanation, this little red wagon.