Yesterday afternoon was different from most Sunday afternoons in my household.
Unlike most weekends, we had NOWHERE to go. Nothing we had to do. The morning rain had cancelled the t-ball game. I had no freelance singing work. The house was actually reasonably clean, and the kids had clean underwear in their drawers for tomorrow. My husband had no urgent project to complete.
Nothing we had to do.
This should sound like Utopia, right?
But it wasn't. I was grouchy, and for once, I knew why. I knew that after about half an hour of "nothing to do", the petitions would start coming. From the kids, it was the inevitable "can we watch something/eat something/buy something" mantra that I dread. From the husband, it was the inevitable, "Let's come up with a PLAN."
Now, my husband uses the word "let's" when talking about planning something fun the same way I use the word "let's" when talking about fixing something. We both mean "you."
I hate planning "fun" all the time. Sometimes I don't feel "fun." Sometimes I don't WANT to be "fun." Sometimes I want to just be.
The problem is, when I don't plan something fun, the natural, lazy tendencies of my kids (as with most kids, I would venture) will steer toward the remote control or candy cabinet. My husband will find a project to do, and we will end up spending the afternoon in a distracted, disconnected stupor of media babysitting, individual projects, and unsupervised snacking. At the end of the day, my husband and I may feel so guilty over the wasted day that we'll go BUY SOMETHING to make up for it.
So, it's now back on me to PLAN something in order to save us all from this inevitable doom, right?
Well, yesterday, I learned that wasn't so. Yesterday, I learned that there is another option, and I didn't plan, watch, eat, or spend a thing: I asked my husband what HE thought would be fun, and we immediately and unquestionably went along with it.
Now, I don't want to indicate that I've never given my husband a chance to plan a family activity. It's just that when I do ask his opinion, I always think about whether it's a good one or not. Then I'll agree or disagree, and eventually we'll try to come up with a compromise. Yesterday, I was too tired to argue, and even though his plan sounded boring and problematic from the start- load up all kids and all bikes in unpleasantly cool, cloudy weather and go for a hike/ride around our city's downtown river island - I just shut up and agreed.
It was the best afternoon any of us can remember.
Throughout the afternoon, not only did we go along with every idea of my husband's, but we went along with the kids' ideas of "fun", too. Why not? I had nothing better to offer, for "once." Every side trail they wanted to explore, every rock that needed to be picked up, every fascinating bump in the path that needed to be ridden over...over and over again...was allowed, repeated by all, and celebrated. And it was fun. I had no idea that skipping rocks for a complete hour could hold my attention. I saw parts of the island I had never before been to. I never hurried up, cut off, redirected, or suppressed any idea that was offered, and we all benefitted.
I allowed my family to plan, and they were actually good at it. What they wanted to do was fun- for all of us. When given the paramaters of sugar-free, money-free, and tv-free, they proved that they could drive the cruise ship for a while, and do a better job of it than me.
As the long summer ahead looms without a lot of camps, money, or even solid plans, I am cautiously optomistic that we may be in for the a fantastic couple of months...as long as I remember to hand over the reigns and enthusiatically grab my riding hat!