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What Are We Gonna Do Today, Dad?

June 9, 2011

This past weekend was my first Saturday home in a month, and I woke up anxious and irritable because I had no plan for the day.  As a result, I was short with my wife at breakfast, and that just added to my doldrums.  I want Saturday with dad to be fun and exciting!  I want to make memories! But instead I’ve all I’ve got is a hot plate of furrowed brow with a side order of rude.

I’ve never been a great activity planner, so I thought maybe that’s the answer; I’ve just got to plan better.  Great.  Another thing to feel bad about.  And then my oldest son reminded me of the unfinished pine-mold musket I bought him in Washington D.C.  He had talked earlier in the week about wanting to paint it.

We’ve got paint and stain in the shed.

So we started getting paint clothes on and before I knew it the other two kids had caught the scent and decided to paint the wooden birdhouse my youngest won (in a bean-bag throwing contest) this past Spring. We spread everything out in the back yard on old pieces of plywood from the shed.

It was 97 degrees and sunny on Saturday, so after we had finished painting everything, we had a water gun fight!  I filled up a cooler with water from the hose and it was ON.  We all got soaked and ended up just pouring bottles of water on each others heads.

The rest of the day unfolded like an invitation.  Amy fixed sandwiches for lunch, the 3 year old took a nap during the hottest part of the day and the big kids watched some of the special features from the Harry Potter movie I brought home from a used bookstore in Arizona. Then, if you can believe it, I found we had a $20 credit at Home Depot, so we went and bought flowers and came home and planted them before the sun went down.  It was a perfect Saturday. I couldn’t have planned it any better.

Honestly, I wanted to wrap up this blog by saying “Just listen to your kids, they’ll come up with something to give you some momentum.” But as I think more about it, I know that’s not always true.  In fact, in the past, often their very best idea has been whining about having nothing to do until their lethargic bodies became one with the couch.

What I’m thinking now is, they’ve gotten tired of whining about having nothing to do! I honestly believe that since literally years of whining never worked (Amy would always enlist the “bored” children in household chores), they have decided to engage their minds and find cool stuff to do themselves.   They have grown creative out of necessity.

This is definitely a perk parents can grow into.  My kids were not this way when they were 6 and 4.  But now that they are 10, 8 and 3, the next Saturday I’m home, if I haven’t planned a big excursion, I won’t worry so much about having no plan for the day.  I’ll just follow their lead.

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