Tomorrow night is Open House at school. In practical terms, this means that I need to hang hundreds of square feet of black paper in my hall, decorate the hall with astronauts and a variety of student projects, clean my classroom, and create lots of cute, yet impressive items for the students to have out on their desks when parents stop by to visit. This gives parents the notion that we are always doing cute, creative, and amazing things. I needed to spend the evening trying to do at least some of these things for tomorrow.
Instead I am at home, drinking coffee and writing. Katie (9) was on the verge of tears after school complaining about feeling yucky, Grace (11) was having a melt down about going to youth when she still felt bad, and James (13) was silent with exhaustion after coming home from a track meet around 11 last night. I knew that I needed to help with youth, and I needed to go with Shawn to a meeting, and I needed to spend the early evening working at school to prep for open house. All of these were absolutely critical items on my agenda that were completely non negotiable. I opened my mouth to tell my three kids about my stuff, took one look at their pitiful faces, grabbed my stuff, and we walked out the door.
They whined all the way home. We hit the door of the house, and you could visibly see the tension lift from their shoulders. Something about the mundane routine of chores and making supper made everything right in their world. Katie scrambled some eggs, Grace started laundry, James took out the trash, and I cooked some pancakes. By the time we sat down at the table and linked hands to pray, those whiny kids were laughing like crazy.
We had deep, intelligent supper conversation. For example, did you know that if you sing, "banana, banana," just right it sounds great on Carol of the Bells. Then James and Grace did a great rendition of a McDonald's commercial set to Carol of the Bells. "Do you want some fries with that, sir?" Then somehow that led to a discussion about using matches as air freshener in the bathroom, which led to a discussion about whether farts really will catch on fire. We rounded out the evening with more laundry, washing the dishes, and doing homework.
I was surprised by just how much a difference canceling the busyness of our life for one night made in the kids' attitudes. It made me rethink yet again that by scheduling our lives and our kids' lives without any margin for just relaxing and hanging out that we are creating undue stress in our lives. I need to work harder at scheduling in some down time for the family.