Ordinarily, I look forward to school vacations. For the next week, I will not have to harp about homework or stress about tests. I will not have to worry about which kid needs gym shoes and which kid needs a permission slip. For five glorious days, there will be nothing pressing I can overlook.
This moment of freedom tastes as sweet as candy.
Until a moment of panic that sets in -- usually beginning on the Thursday before an extended school holiday – and sours the whole thing. What are we going to do for the next four to nine days?
I've made so many plans in my mind. Great plans. Lofty plans that are bound to leave an indelible impression on my children's young minds. They include all manner of outdoorsy things such as skiing, skating, snow shoeing and sledding.
Outside of my mind, in my office-slash-craftroom, I have even made fancy balaclavas for each and every member of my family (and some of our friends) so now when we venture out into the snow we will all look like bandits.
I've even made one for the dog, so she can join the fun, too.
For days now I've been Googling ididirod and skijoring and plunking the computer down in front of her as she naps.
She opens one eye … and then closes it. She'd rather have baklava. “You keep your balaclava, strange frenetic human.”
It will be spring soon, I reckon, might as well enjoy the snow while it's visiting.
Who am I kidding?
My mind plays so many tricks on me. It always gives me 10 more minutes and one more cup of coffee before starting the day. It has trouble moving away from the fire … and the book with the dog-eared corners.
It agrees to “Just one more show … pretty pleassssssssse?”
And then it tunes out the television churning out children's programming hour after hour.
My mind allows me to believe just making it to Bedtime without any major meltdowns is a success all its own.
It comforts me into believing Tomorrow will redeem the failure that was Today.
And then my mind becomes a betting parlor. A big, cushy space bathed in red velvet, where my thoughts sit on their edge of their plush seats waiting for a whistle to blow or for something majestic to cross a wire.
It gives odds that are usually not in my favor, yet I still plunk down my best intentions and cross my fingers that this time ...
This time we will manage to get out into the world. This time we will we try something new or something we haven't done in a while. This time I will not take odds on who will be first among the tribe to utter the words “I'm soooooooo boooooorrrrrrred!”
Because at that point, all bets are off.
This gamble isn't about winning or losing, it's about playing the right game and understanding that the margin for winning is always razor thin.
Sure you got them dressed in all their winter gear … but did you remember to ask them to use the potty first?
Did you get any advance training in dealing with the turmoil caused by snow in the boot or down the back of a coat?
Why does it feel like just getting out of the house requires the skill and experience of being able to traverse a giant slalom?
Of course, sledding down a steep hill for a few runs after skiing a full day would feel like an Olympic accomplishment, say on Monday. But I guarantee, getting the kids to bed at a reasonable hour on Sunday night will be Herculean.
Perhaps all I need before I start is just one more cup of coffee by the fire.