The winter seems long to two active boys who love to be outside, who love to go to school. This winter continues to teach us new things about each other as a family, about how much we love spending time together — and how we need breaks from each other.
The extra days off from school have allowed us to do some things we don’t normally get to do during the week: matinee movies, cookie baking after lunch, little things here and there. But when the days off run on and on, days blurring into each other, patience wears thin: parents for children, children for parents, parents for parents, and brother for brother. Coming up with new things to do when I need to work and technology remains off limits because it’s a weekday can be a challenge for these two by the fifth day off in a row.
Yesterday was difficult.
I had a doctor’s appointment, a number of conference calls, and a number of looming deadlines. They didn’t have school. My husband, who would normally wrangle them while I locked myself in my office, got a whopping two hours of sleep the night before due to a house fire. To say he felt tired was an understatement. Still, we managed because we didn’t have another choice.
At one point, I came out of my office to find the boys at the table, one of their many science kits and its contents spread across the dining room table.
“We’re doing science!”
Clad in a white lab jacket and goggles, BigBrother read over the directions, telling LittleBrother what to grab and where to put it. Only one lab jacket in our massive costume box(es), LittleBrother opted for his camouflage robe, his goggles perched atop his head. He listened intently to his older brother’s
bossing instructions, happy to do whatever his brother demanded asked.
I couldn’t help but stop and smile.
In the summer, we have a plan for the long days. We have workbooks and planned science experiments. I rearrange my schedule and we take trips to the science center and the local lake beach. They spend afternoons here and there with a babysitter. We blow bubbles when I take breaks from work and draw things with chalk on our sidewalk. But when an unexpected day off happens in the middle of the school year, the wheels fall off of my carefully planned and overwhelmingly full schedule. We make it work, but goodness, I feel the guilt that they aren’t getting the best of me, the most of me, the me that they need and deserve.
Then I see a scene like this unfold before my eyes and the guilt dissipates. A bit. I smile, because even though I have things to do, I’ve laid the groundwork for them to find things to do, to keep themselves busy, to work together and find their own fun.
“Mommy, this said we needed a grown up helper, but we didn’t! We worked together and look, SLIME!”
The winter may be long, but I think these two little guys have it all under control.