Monday, January 7, 2008

January Thaw

This afternoon it was 65 degrees here in cloudy Pennsylvania. That's a perfectly wonderful temperature, though a bit suspicious in January. Still, I know that a January thaw is common enough, so I decided to relax and celebrate by urging the girls outside after school. I believe in global warming, but I also believe there is no sense in failing to enjoy its benefits when there are any.

I find I can't get the girls outside without friends unless I basically go outside and stubbornly stay there until they find a way to entertain themselves. I'm no supermom, and I have no interest in organizing an expedition or leading a game or frankly, even in playing with them. I love watching them play, but I hate when they involve me and then start telling me what character I am and what to say next. I figure I'm being good enough by getting outside; I don't need to get saintly here.

Being outside wasn't a tough sell, but self-entertainment was. We ended up taking scooters over to the nearest playground and tennis courts, and we played "Mommy throws old tennis balls at the children while they scooter." It would have been brutal if my aim were better. Instead, I got each of them maybe once, we all got a lot of exercise, and I got out some aggression built up from first-day-of-a-new-semester anxiety, without hurting anyone. Then Emily did a few passes on monkey bars because I dared her, and we headed home as the sun gave its last pink rays from below the horizon. Hazel stayed on the slides until it was clear we were walking ahead without her.

This weekend, when it was still seasonably January, we all went out sliding on the ice in a nearby empty parking lot, and the girls, with a friend, decided to build a snowfort and make snowball ammunition for use against me. As there was about a half-inch of snow and I could tell it might be years before they had a snowfort large enough even for a dog, I found a way to entertain myself. As I was, that day, already dressed in the armor of snow gear - gloves to snowpants - I figured I was ready to prune back the multiflora rosebush and get the empty bottles out of it. Only problem was, I didn't have clippers with me, and didn't want to go back to the garage to get them. So I snapped branches off with my gloved hands - only a couple of prickers got me through the seams - until I could get the trash out of the bush. The bush didn't really look any smaller when I was done, and I doubt I even got a full year's worth of growth off it, though I broke off quite a few branches.

Don't ask me why I'd rather attack a rosebush than play with my daughters. We can save that question for their psychiatrist later, who I hope will lead them to some charitable interpretation. But two hours later, it was time for lunch, and we were all hungry, and who knows where the time went. For some reason, without it being my weedy rosebush or anything, I felt better having those old bottles taken care of. I know the girls eventually turned their snow fort into a birthday party, complete with streamers from someone's leftover New Year's party decorations which were left as trash. I think we all came inside feeling festive.

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