Saturday, April 15, 2017

weekend warriors

I have this phenomenon in my house--you may be familiar with it in your own--where I need to get my kids out of the house on weekends to do something. It barely matters what. Really, it could be anything. The playground is a nice, easy choice. Or hiking, we like to do that. If it's rainy or cold, the Georgia Aquarium is clutch, or the Tellus Science Museum, or sometimes (when we're feeling a little least earnest in our intentions), any of a number of indoor playgrounds, plus or minus go karts. But the reason I need to get my kids out of the house on weekends is the same reason you need to walk your dogs. Well, maybe not in order to poop on the street, but really, the point of taking kids out on the weekend is to wear them out. You need to take that full gas tank full of hyperactive aimless kid juice and run it down, my droogs. Otherwise, the kids start to get bored. And when they get bored, they get fractious. And when they get fractious, they start to complain, and I can't be hearing any of that, because the complaining inevitably leads to screentime begging, which is THE WORST KIND OF BEGGING. (Generally speaking, my kids only get screen time on the weekends, and they know this, so this leads to a kind of hoarding mentality about screen time that is somewhat counterproductive. It's like food insecurity that you sometimes see in kids who grew up not having enough to eat, only my kids have had plenty to eat, and also they get plenty of screentime, so everyone shut up, don't you know I grew up unironically using a rotary phone, yet still, to my knowledge, have never complained about boredom as much as you three seem to?)

Sometimes on the weekend, they will be playing very nicely with each other in the morning, and Joe will suggest, hey, maybe we'll just let them hang out at home and do nothing and just have a low-key morning at home. And...OK, look. I love my spouse, I cherish his input, but sometimes I also wonder when he will ever get tired of being WRONG ABOUT EVERYTHING, ALL THE TIME, EVER. Because what happens is this. The kids play very nicely at home for a few hours. But then they get bored. And then they start complaining, "What are we going to do today? Where are we going to go? Why can't we go out to do something else?" Like we were cruelly holding them captive at home against their will! But by then, it's too late! The opportunity window has closed! By the time you let them realize that going out is the best course of action, it's too late to go out to do anything good, and then they're pissed, and you're pissed, and everyone is pissed, and in order to defuse the situation you just end up letting them play Minecraft for a million hours which makes them even more avolitional and makes you feel guilty for being That Piece of Shit Parent and then your weekend is RUINED.

I put this out there because several people have told me that I seem to take my kids to do a lot of things on the weekends, but it's really not anything that reflects well on me, because the only reason I get them out of the house is because I DON'T WANT TO DEAL WITH THE COMPLAINING. I don't want to hear it, I don't want to respond to it, I don't want to try to troubleshoot it, and I certainly don't want to feel guilty for how I eventually deal with it. I don't want to do any of that. I just want to avoid the whole thing. Hence, the weekend activities.

So. This morning we went to do some strawberry picking at Washington Farms.

We have gone fruit picking many, many times before, though never at Washington Farms. The reasons we went to that particular location this weekend are as follows.

1.) They sent me an email from their mailing list, so I remembered that they existed.

2.) I usually buy two flats of strawberries from Costco per week, but this past week the strawberries they had on offer looked like hot moldy garbage, and...

3.) I saw some mention of a Super Spring Saturday petting zoo. Nina likes petting zoos.

So, Washington Farms! Bright and early this morning! So here was the part where I had to steer my kids into the skid a little bit. It's still the beginning of strawberry season in Georgia, so the crop isn't so robust yet, and I was worried that they would get picked out if we didn't show up early enough. (Their website warned of the same, and actually suggested that people call them to check on crop availability before driving in.) So I wanted to get to the farm on the earlier side. However, waking your kids up even five minutes earlier than they prefer to wake on the weekends is a recipe for them deciding that they don't waaaaaant to go pick strawberries. Why do we haaaaaave to go? Why can't we get strawberries at the stooooooore? So, what's a loving, engaged parent to do in response? Why, merrily ignore them, of course! (Really, what I said was this. I know. You think you don't want to go. But trust me, you're going to have fun.)

And they did.

Washington Farms was having a Super Spring Saturday this weekend, which means that in addition to the strawberry picking, there was your standard variety of Family FFarm FFFun offerings on tap, including A Bounce Thing:

An Animal Thing:

A Weird PVC Tubing Slide Thing:

And a Thing Where One of Your Kids Somehow Gets Buried In a Mound of Dried Corn:

Anyway, Washington Farms. Strawberry picking was a success, although now I feel like we're going to be basically eating strawberries defensively until they're all gone. (Last time we went strawberry picking, I made strawberry jelly, though I think I screwed up the recipe somehow, mostly because I didn't follow the recipe on the pectin box exactly. They told me how much sugar to put in and it was an almost sarcastic amount of sugar, and I though surely, that can't be right, and I'm a doctor, therefore I know EVERYTHING, so I cut it by 25%. So it turns out that the instructions were screaming at me to follow what they said the letter for a reason, because that jelly turned out kinda...not so jelled. But anyway. Color me chastised.) The Spring Fun activities were truly fun, and although we only spent about 45 minutes doing the actual fruit picking, we probably spent another 3+ hours there just doing the rest of the stuff. That coupled with the hour it took to drive home means that my kids didn't start thinking about screen time until past 4:00pm. And that, my friends, is what we call #winning. I've already cleared a place on my desk for my Parent of the Year award--it can sit right next to that pile of school papers I forgot to sign and the class pictures I forgot to pay for but also never returned. What? WHAT?


  1. Next time try low-sugar pectin and the trick where you put a bit of jam on a frozen spoon to see if it will gel before you stop cooking it. And/or enjoy your defensive strawberry eating :)

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  3. Anonymous10:57 AM

    "Sarcastic amount of sugar" excuse me while I asphyxiate on my own spittle.

    Have been following your blog for many years (LIKE I'M TAKING THE DAYS WHEN Y'ALL LIVED IN a MANHATTEN APARTMENT WITH COOPER AND CAL AND THAT WAS IT), it's really lovely to see how your life is unfolding! Congrats on the recent Eurotrip, as well! Please keep blogging, as there are many of us still quietly lurking over here and loving your family to bits and pieces.

  4. Anonymous12:51 PM

    You're probably my favorite mom in all of the world. I love how you manage your family so well. Can you share how you got your kids to write in a journal and what other things you do to keep them off the screens?

  5. Love your return to regular blogging, you have been missed. From following you for many years and admiring you from a career perspective, I now have my first child and can see that your parenting skills are also worth much admiration! I feel I shall return to this post in years to come, though who knows what screen time will look like then x

  6. Anonymous3:43 AM

    Long-time reader, first-time commenter. I am a physician in Australia. I stumbled upon your blog as a medical student 8 years ago, read all the archives, and have been following you ever since. I also own your book. Now I am a mum to an 8 month old and working part-time. I am in awe of how you managed 3 kids and working full-time. Love that you've returned to blogging!


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