Ninety minutes from now, life will be back to normal. My children will be at their respective schools, my spouse will be at his office, and I will be in my writing space closing in on the end of a manuscript. The dogs will be curled up on the couch and will raise their heads when I pass them as I make trips to and from the kitchen for coffee.
Life will be restored to its comfortable balance in an hour and a half. Vacation is over.
I happen to be one of those parents who believes that giving children “experiences” is a way to build meaningful memories into their childhoods. We don’t spend a lot of money on our kids, in part because there’s not a lot to draw from. That’s by design. Rob and I don’t have full time jobs with bosses who expect us to be present forty hours a week. As he and I are both self-employed, we make our own hours. Those hours flow from how many clients we can obtain. Fewer clients mean less income, but the silver-lining of the black, financial cloud is that both of us are around the house and the children much more than I think typical.
In an effort to squeeze the last little bit of time out of vacation, I announced at midday yesterday that after dinner we would have “Family Reading Time” until bedtime. I was asked what we would be reading, to which I responded, “We are not reading the same thing. You can, individually, read whatever you want, but it should be ‘for pleasure.'”
My two older ones had travel books, #3 had a NatGeo science reference book, #4 had Auggie and Me, Rob had a non-fiction about economics (which he found particularly funny and was laughing out loud distracting his co-readers), and I had John Irving’s The World According to Garp.
We sat together for an hour and a half, quietly reading–for pleasure.
Now, you’re probably wondering how this came together without complaints or whining.
Homemade cake with coconut frosting is a sure incentive to make children (ages 8-15) sit and spend some unplugged time with their parents.
Truth be told they weren’t totally quiet, they asked for a second piece (which they were denied), and #3 gave up soon after he finished his one and only piece. (He was clearly in it for the food.)
All in all though, I think it was a success.
Next Sunday, we’ll be doing it again.
I’m thinking chocolate cake with peanut frosting might be in order.