It’s Spring Break, or as I called it last year, Spring Break-down. So far, after four consecutive full days with my kids, I’m still remarkably composed. I haven’t been overly tempted to lock them in the closet, at least not for a long period; I’ve also locked myself in my walk-in closet only once during this same time.
This extended moment of sanity is likely because — for the past two days — I’ve been hanging out at my sister-in-law’s house, which I interchangeably call “Ode to Full Pantry” and “Ode to Toys.” I can do things like sleep-in and read the paper. I can shower without a six-year-old yanking the door open to engage me in conversation.
When you have kids, your standards for a holiday drop immensely.
The three-hour drive in our Loser Cruiser was semi-painless. A trip to the library meant we had four new DVDs to show the kids on the hang-from-the-rafters DVD player I’d once sworn I’d never use. Another delusional pre-parenting idea out the window.
By the time we were halfway to Edmonton, William and Vivian had watched all the DVDs. Now, I had only ninety minutes to entertain them. They wanted to play eye-spy, but I’ve shied away from this game ever since race became a factor last year.
So, we opted to play “I’m Going on a Picnic.” If you don’t know this game, one person thinks of a pattern in her head (e.g. things that start with G), and then says, “I’m going on a picnic and I’m bringing gingerbread.” The next person will repeat the phrase and add an item that he hopes is part of the pattern. If he says, “I’m going on a picnic and I’m bringing gingerbread and chocolate chips,” he can’t go. But if he adds “girlfriends,” he can go on the picnic. You get the idea. (If you don’t, just nod your head. It’s not worth the work to reread my poor instructions).
We started the game. I went first and said, “I’m going on a picnic and I’m bringing a lime.” After two rounds, they figured out the pattern is green things.
William went next. It was painfully obvious that his pattern was “signs of Spring.” Still, my husband threw in the obligatory red herring, and said, “I’m going on a picnic and I’m bringing grass (my guess), flowers (Vivian’s guess) and jet fuel.” It’s no secret where William gets his Non-Sequitur-ishness.
Next up was Vivian, who asserted her loyalty by selecting “things in my cousin’s house.” Earlier that morning, William had interrupted my shower and announced, “Vivian’s running away.” When I asked him where to, he replied, “our cousin’s.”
Finally, it was my husband’s turn. There was a pregnant pause. He was watching the highway, but I could tell he was thinking. It was the grin.
I looked at him and said:
I know what he’s capable of, so I went on a pre-emptive strike. His pattern, however, was tame this time. It was “Things in His Office” (which included a remote control mammoth, a can of crocodile meat, and a stuffed piranha).
Before Vivian could start another round, I said, “Who wants to watch another DVD?”
“We’ve watched them all,” William said.
“Who wants to watch a DVD for the second time?” I suggested.
“Can’t we play ‘Go on a Picnic’ again?” Vivian asked.
I exhaled loudly, my silent version of God help me.
This time, my husband rescued me. “Why don’t you play ‘I’m Going on a Picnic’ by yourself, Viv?”
And then a few more God help me’s to finish the road trip.