I work from home. Some people think that this means I do whatever I want all the time. Not true. I have a daily routine that begins at 8:30 a.m. in my home office where I read, research, write, plan, learn and network my way through this freelance life. I break midday for an hour to eat lunch and take a walk, then back to it.
Summer, however, has been begging for attention. During my “working” years, the first week of August has been my usual summer vacation, so when the calendar changed recently I planned a couple days off. Who better to share it with than nephews K. & D.!
One at a time, I scooped up the kids and took them out from their usual day program for a play day with me. [Um, no, I did NOT take them at the same time. I don’t have that kind of stamina. Besides they feel more special if it is one-on-one!]
First up was K. I surprised him at the daycare center mid-morning and whisked him off for a day of adventure. He was kind enough to accompany me to the Rundel Library, the granite Art Deco 1930’s main branch of our local public library system. Even though this was technically an errand for research books I needed, parking on the Broad Street Bridge comes with a great view of the Genesee River (“No, you may NOT stand on the railing!”) and the downtown treat of witnessing the office building-nesting peregrine falcon fledglings trying out their wings for the first time.
He was ecstatic to find out that our next activity was hiking in the woods. Recent rain had dampened the earth and stirred up enough pine tree fragrance to necessitate deeply inhaling as soon as we got on the trail, a 1.2 mile loop around a small lake. K. learned to move quietly in the woods so that animals wouldn’t be scared off, and how not to get lost by keeping the water on our right and looking around for the “blue blaze” painted on trees that mark the trail.
We saw flowering lily pads, a great blue heron, two woodpeckers, dragonflies, and a swan family. His idea for what to do every time we spotted a blue blaze? Take a deep breath.
We lunched at a neighborhood diner then played 18 holes of miniature golf. A quick visit home to pet our dog and then back to reality. I’m not sure which of us needed the play day more!
D. immediately began to ask when he would get his play day. A week later it was perfect bribery material for good behavior at the dentist.
Since The Little One requires a bit more maintenance than K., I was forewarned that a hike in the woods would likely fall apart into a whine-fest. Yet, he wanted to know if we were going on a hike like I did with his brother.
Our street dead-ends at the fenced parking lot of our local Zoo; a roughly 10 minute walk along a leafy railroad bed-converted urban walking trail reveals a convenient gap in the fence that leads back to the Zoo parking lot. “Yes, D., we are hiking in the woods to get to the Zoo!” I am a cool aunt.
Slathered in sunscreen, D. first finagled a monkey mask from the gift shop, but had little interest in looking at actual monkeys. He quickly discarded his sandals for a long visit to the kiddie wading “creek,” but was barely impressed by the bald eagles nesting 20 feet away. Playing on the slide – yes. Walking down to the new multimillion dollar lion exhibit – no. We “hiked” back home for lunch and coloring on my porch.
The afternoon wrapped up after the same 18 holes of miniature golf (exactly like his brother) and a quick errand to the pet store. Out cold when we parked, I convinced D. to wake up and come into the store with me by telling him about the parrot inside that would say “Hello” to him. (She did, thank heavens.)
Two play dates with kids is a great way to reset myself, even if I practically needed a day of recovery after each one! They will be back in school soon and I’ll be less tempted by sunny days, so we may as well tap into that Summer Classic: Play.
[For the record, D. is way more exhausting than K.]