Family Quality Time Gone Wrong
It’s Saturday and the day is about to get started. For 24 hours I’ve been saying to myself, “Self, tomorrow we will leave the house early and hit the ground running at a reasonable hour, hopefully by 10am. And we will have great quality time together, as Family, and we’ll enjoy it, damn it!” I wake up eager to get the morning started with breakfast. My vision is clear, to have everyone ready to leave the house by 10am. It’s only 8, we have lots of time. Right? Right.
As the morning progresses we get sidetracked, Toddler is still playing with a flabby waffle and screaming because there’s not enough maple syrup on her plate. Husband just. does. not. react. And continues reading his Twitter feed. And I just can’t get back to the plan. I’m supposed to be clearing the dishes while they both happily get ready to leave. Instead, those plates are still on the table. Waffle. Syrup. Twitter. It’s 9am.
“C’mon, let’s change. We are going to the park, remember?” I swear I see them nodding, but now there’s another cartoon on the TV and how did all these toys get here? I could have sworn I put them away already. Gahhh! “Come’on, don’t you wanna go to the park? Let’s go now so we can find a good spot!”
And there they are, Husband reading his paper, sipping his coffee, responding to smart phone Scrabble challenges. Toddler has her bare bottom on her tricycle, crashing into anything and everything in the room. “Let’s go! We must go out and have fun!” I tell them. I feel exhausted and exasperated.
After a quick shower, I discover not so much has changed. Husband and the kid are still not ready. I grab Toddler and naïvely try to rationalise her into some clothing. Me: “Come here, let’s put on these shorts.”
Toddler: “First... seal.” And she passes me this tiny plastic squeaky bath toy. I grab it and toss it to the side.
Me: “Come here, let’s put clothes on and go.”
Toddler: “First... ball.” She runs around the room, everywhere but here, then hands some random sponge ball to me. Didn’t she see what I just did to her seal?
Me: “Come on, who is this on your shirt? Oh look, it’s Dora, let’s put it on.”
Toddler: “First... baby.” She’s got a little one-eyed doll in her hand. Where is she getting these things? The third in a row goes flying over my left shoulder onto the floor.
Finally, Me: “You come here.” I grab her by the arm and change her, right there, holding her down like a wrestler going for the ten-count. She patiently, and maybe a little scared, lets me change her. “There, done. Now where are your sandals, sweetie?”
A flurry of questions and answers. The same ones every Saturday, it seems.
“Is the diaper bag ready? That was your only job.”
“No, we’ll do that when we come back, get in here. Let’s go.”
“Where are my keys? I don’t know, these are yours.”
“No, we colour when we get back.”
It goes without saying we don’t leave by 10am. We all trundle out the door at 11:30. It also goes without saying that before we make it to the park, Toddler is wiping her eyes and threatening to nap in the car. I nudge her to keep her awake, because seriously if she really wants to sleep, she can do it in the stroller, right? That’s what kids do, right? Needless to say, the same process self repeats when we return home.
No matter how much you have the whole thing envisioned and planned in your head, you must have everything pre-packed the day before. Hide the newspaper, ditch the phones and unplug the TV, so when the time comes to eat breakfast, Family will stay focused and on schedule.
But most of it all, remember that the best quality time often comes unplanned. Sometimes having fun is not outdoors at all. It can all start at home.
Next Saturday, we’ll stay home and like it, damn it. I think I’ll go put that on the calendar.
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