Friday, November 04, 2005

An unplanned evening

Had a bit of an entertaining end to the workday today. When I got home from the office, my wife was reeling from a nasty headache that came on mid-afternoon and only got worse from there.

So I scooped the boys up, picked up our daughter from a play date, and did what any self-respecting Dad does when his wife needs a few quiet hours to herself: I took them to McDonald's.

I know, I'm a heathen on so many levels. But it made them happy, and I got to just sit and watch them be themselves.

When they were done eating, we went to the Play Place (Rule #1: the only fast food restaurants worth patronizing are the ones with attached play areas. Rule #2: see Rule #1.) I let them run themselves ragged while I sat on the bench inside and observed the chaos. They seemed to bounce from one spot to another, which I expected. What I didn't expect was how much they enjoyed being with each other.

Time out: we have three very bright, engaged, and intensively aware children. They can either fight like cats and dogs or be the most poignantly important people in their siblings' lives. And they can change from one state to another in mere seconds. End of time out.

Tonight, thankfully, they realized Mommy wasn't feeling well, and as a result they stepped up to the plate. Big sister Dahlia looked out for little guy Noah and shepherded him down the slide like a little doll, careful to make sure he didn't get hurt. Big brother Zach watched out for both of them and kept me updated on where they were within the giant 3-dimensional maze of plastic tubing.

When we were done, they all dutifully put their shoes on, grabbed each other's hands and headed out. We went to the Loblaws across the street to pick up some groceries. In the store, each of them helped out. Zachary fetched items from the list and brought them back. Dahlia counted prices (she's going through a serious numbers phase these days) and got bags for the fruit. Noah held my PalmPilot from his perch in the cart.

As we were walking down the frozen foods section, heading to the checkout aisle, Dahlia put her arm around her big brother's shoulder - pretty amazing given how small she is, and the fact that she never does this. Even more amazingly, he returned the favor. They walked arm-in-arm all the way to the checkout counter before turning back to help me unload the cart.

I'm not sure what these kids did with my real children, but it was a joy to watch this unfold in front of me.

I keep reminding myself that it's these little slices of time that our children will remember most.


jennypenny said...

Haha sounds like a fantastic evening with the kiddies. It is amazing how kids can pick up on how we are feeling and sometimes when the stars are aligned and all is perfect with the universe they can surprise us by being perfect little angels. This is especially amazing after probably consuming those cute little McDonalds animal shaped cookies. Side note: how is it those things taste so bad but you still want more, and why don't they ever give me the chocolate chip cookies when I order a happy meal????

Have a great weekend Carmi!

kenju said...

You bet they will remember, Carmi, and if they should ever get to the point where they are estranged or mad at each other - you remind them how they once were and bring them back to a state of brotherly love!

Your "time out" paragraph is true of every family of siblings that I have ever known - especially mine. Now that my kids are ages 34-36-almost 40, they have an easy camaraderie together than is a really nice to witness.

I have a photo on the bulletin board above my desk, where my 5 year-old granddaughter is standing next to her 11 year old brother. She has her arm up, with her hand on his shoulder. The funny thing about it is tht she is half his height, so her arm is hyper-extended to reach his shoulder. It is alternately the funniest and the sweetest photo!

Michele sent me!

kenju said...

P.S. I wanted to say that I think you must be a model for husbands and fathers everywhere. If I were Australian, I might say "Good on ya', bloke!"

mar said...

Behind every model husband there is a model wife...:D How nice you can keep your memories in (a wonderfully) written form. Your kids will love to read these posts when they get older. Here via Michele's .

craziequeen said...

Hi carmi - just over from Michele's place :-)

A wonderful outing! :-)

And not only will the children keep happy memories of quality time spent together, but so will you :-)


Leanne said...

Awesome Carmi!
I remeber the McD's getaways with my own Dad when my sister and I were little, usually in the morning for pancakes though and no play place.
Any time I read a blog entry about your family I get so excited for the growth of my own.
Keep up the great work!

Shannon said...

Isn't it wonderful when things just fall into place and what might have been a difficult situation (your wife not feeling well) turns into a rewarding one?

I'm definitely with you on the Fast Food Rule!

Jean-Luc Picard said...

That was a great post, that tells of a really good evening.