Random ramblings reflect my scattered state of mind. I’ve got a plumber in the house doing work, interrupting my routine and schedule. There’s a deep layer of fog covering the sky this morning and every kid was late to school because of daylight savings time. Gotta love it.
In an effort to combat the fatigue of too much screen time, we’ve got a house rule that the kids only get screen time – time on iPads, phones, computer and video games – from Friday through Sunday. We limit it to one hour per kid each of those days. This strategy has backfired on us I think because what happens then is that Friday afternoons end up being indoors, in front of screens like maniacs. Then the weekends we are constantly managing this whole who gets what screen when. It is extremely frustrating and if anyone out there has come up with better ways of managing this, please share! But we haven’t come up with a better solution so we continue on.
This past Friday was an early school release day which meant we had hours of potential screen time in front of us. And it was nice out- like the sun is out and it’s above 60 degrees kind of nice. I dislike the idea of squandering good weather. So I put my big Momma foot down.
We are visiting the Butterfly House this afternoon I announced to the kids. Reactions? Baby girl squealed with joy. 2nd most honorable son whined that he just wanted to stay home and relax which in his book means playing video games. Big boy threw a major tantrum that culminated in the car with a you can force me to go but you can’t make me like it teenage back talk. It was painful. I thought maybe I should just turn the car around and forget this whole thing. It would have been easier and that’s saying something. But I wanted us to spend quality time together and if it didn’t come naturally I was going to force it.
The month of March is March Morpho Mania at the Butterfly House. The common blue morpho is native to Central and South America. Every March, the Butterfly House has thousands of morphos shipped to them from Costa Rica every day. An interesting fact about these beauties is that their wings are not actually blue although they appear to be blue. Their wings are lined with tiny scales that only allow blue light to escape. So, when you see the beautiful blue mess of butterflies, it’s just the sun hitting them in a certain way. When we entered the tropical conservatory we were instantly surrounded and in the company of 2,000 morpho butterflies. Here’s a picture of the 3 kids upon entering the greenhouse. You can see how unhappy the boys are.
All you parents out there with littles still- enjoy and embrace it. There we were, experiencing this stupendous nature and beauty and I have to be honest and share that I just felt sadness. I felt that the days of me dragging my kids out all together especially big boy who is on the precipice of turning 14 and entering high school are numbered. Teenage angst is building and we are already competing against so many things like lacrosse games and practices and Boy Scout activities. I struggle with this. So I remained quiet, ignored their protests and walked around the conservatory, observing the environment around us.
Wondrous beauty around me and yet a deep longing inside. A longing for the days when they were little and happy to be with me and each other. When a good day was a play date at the park with snacks like cheese sticks, tangerines and rice cakes. We’d spread a picnic blanket on the grass and I’d throw my head back and let the sunshine fill me up. All I had to do was make sure that helmet was safely secured around their curly haired heads and keep them away from strangers.
After the Butterfly House, we hit the park that is right next to it. Baby girl was so happy to run around. It seemed like ages since we’d been outside at a park. In California, we’d hit the park a couple of times a week but here, it’s just too cold during the winter so it’s been a while. 2nd most honorable son ran around too and he enjoyed it- I know he did. He tries to do this activity called parkour. There’s a huge following on youtube about it. I don’t quite get it but it’s considered an extreme sport- you jump from building to building without landing on the floor. So there they were and Big Boy and I sat on the park bench because you know- he’s too old now for the park. He pouted a bit. We talked a bit. It was good. Teenagers don’t tell you the whole story about anything. It slips out in bits and pieces. It’s up to the parents to piece it all together. That’s why it’s good to allow moments of silence, however brief to be a part of your day- because that is where you will get these golden nuggets of random information.
After rounding up the kids, I told them we were going to hit the Wendy’s drive-through. Something you should know about us is that we are not a fast-food family. It’s not a judgement thing- it’s just that I did not grow up with fast food. There was always a home-cooked meal waiting for me throughout childhood and the way my Momma always told it- she said – there were too many of you to feed through a fast-food restaurant. And so, that is why even if I am dog tired, I will cook up a pot of pasta or do a breakfast dinner (eggs and waffles) or the most awesome fallback of all time- cheese and ham quesadillas with avocados on top instead of spending $20 bucks at a fast-food drive-through. We might do fast-food like once every six months? It is because of that, that when my kids do get it, there are whooping celebratory squeals. So it was on this day. They were all excited and I ordered them each a child’s meal with the frosty substitute. So, you can imagine our surprise when we received the meal and well the frosty that accompanied that meal was beyond small. Like tiny. Like why even bother tiny. How was I to know? The kids howled with laughter at their predicament. 2nd most honorable son giggled- why did they give us such a small size- it will take us 2 gulps to finish it. We all laughed our way back home.
It dawned on me that this is why I cannot take the easy way out and let them call the shots and stay indoors every Friday afternoon so they can play video games and watch movies, each on their individual screens. Because of this moment and memory we created. 15 years from now, when they are grown and out in the world- they will remember this day of blue butterflies and a small tiny-sized Wendy’s frosty and they will laugh and smile.