Schedule-free Saturday

We enjoyed our first completely unscheduled Saturday in months. The gorgeous weather was a bonus.

Cute W spent much of the day staining a desk that his dad made for him.

Staining furniture has got to be on the Cute W’s top ten list for things that make him most tense, ever. For part of the time I stood next to him, catching errant drips with a rag, and listened to him moan, mutter, and curse. This was particularly amusing to me, because it seems like a pretty Zen process. That’s largely because he doesn’t trust me to do it myself, so I don’t have primary responsibility. You might think I’m kidding, but he truly would not let me do it. Anyway, I asked, “What is it about staining that stresses you out so much?” And he answered, “Because everything is a potential mistake.”

Ah, yes. So then it struck me as a perfect metaphor for parenthood. We’re walking around this desk, fussing over the imperfections and touching up what we can and fretting. Because it’s a race against time: if we don’t fix something quickly, it will become a permanent flaw. Cute W is afraid that there will be a thick, ugly drip that he’ll see every time he sits down at his computer desk for years to come. A constant reminder of a momentary lack of competence. Just like parenting, when we encounter bad habits or annoying phases and wonder, is this something that will pass, or is it an indication of a permanent character defect? A defect which is no doubt due to our own parenting incompetence, something that we could have prevented if only we’d been more vigilant? I was thinking all of this while Cute W stained and I wiped drips and we both fretted over the mottled surface.

Then J came along and said, “Wow! That looks wonderful! You guys are doing a great job!”

When we weren’t staining, we were walking. Yesterday, I took the girls to visit my sister and her family in Vermont. When we returned, the weather was gorgeous and I desperately needed to get off my butt. J was at gymnastics, so M and I took a walk. Strangely, this was a revelation. When the girls were in the Baby Bjorn-and-stroller stage, I walked with them often. But we haven’t taken too many random strolls lately. M gushed, “We never just walk without going somewhere. We bike around, or we walk to somewhere, but we never just walk around.” She decided that we should walk far.

When we returned home, we mapped our walk to find out how far we’d walked, and then we logged our time and miles.

So, today, M was eager for another walk. First, J came along. This was a bit of a flop. J didn’t walk fast enough for M, and M wanted to walk farther than J. There was drama and sorrow. We ended the threesome walk, then M and I headed back out.

By the end, M was tired. I asked if I could take a picture for the blog, and she consented.

Then she began to collapse for the camera.

We were both laughing, because we were passing by a neighbor’s house, and they’re always posting photos on Facebook of the whole family climbing mountains. I jokingly narrated the contrasting families’ adventures, “Here’s so-and-so on mile 8 of our trek at 320 feet, still looking good! . . . “Here’s M after a walk around the neighborhood. We borrowed a stretcher for the final block of our stroll.”

So, I’m hoping we stick with this new mother-daughter ritual. J was tired today, but I suggested that we take a one-on-one walk soon. At this rate I might need to get a decent pair of sneakers.

Oh, hey! Stay tuned for another circus giveaway coming up soon!

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