Last Sunday was such a beautiful day. Clear skies, great temperatures. Just gorgeous.
Now had I followed my usual habits that day, I would have slept as late as the kid would have allowed, rolled around in my jammies for too long, and then start trying to balance the work that I need to do with the kid’s need to “do something fun” as she likes to put it. The “doing something fun” part is always a struggle for me. Between being chronically exhausted with batshit moods, fun isn’t always in my arsenal. Luckily AdoringHusband is much better finding fun for her, though he does tend to repeat the same tried-and-true fun again and again.
But last Sunday was different. I had a photo shoot scheduled in West Chester, PA for 9 AM. That meant no rolling around in bed or in jammies. It meant getting up, packing up the car and driving for almost an hour to take photos of some adorable kids. It was on my drive back that I got some inspiration. It was a nudge toward being normal. Being normal is NOT something that comes easily to either me or AdoringHusband.
Those regular readers of the blog know that my childhood did not tend toward normal. Some might call it strange, bizarre, extremely sheltered or overcontrolled. Of course I didn’t realize any of that while I was growing up with Mummy. I thought it was normal for some people to just remain housebound…for long periods of time. I remember a Christmas vacation spent indoors 90% of the time…in California. We didn’t often go anywhere as a family and we certainly weren’t allowed much freedom to go and play outside if my mother wasn’t home. Add to that the fact that my mother disliked well, people, so we rarely had visitors either, ergo…decidedly not normal.
It didn’t bother me too much at the time. I was so involved with reading, crocheting, and soap operas that I wasn’t as bothered as one would imagine. And we did have school and day camp that allowed us to be socialized so that we didn’t act like primates around the normals. But a day, or weekend spent in the house was my version of normal. It was what I knew.
AdoringHusband’s childhood was similarly not normal as well. He too had a parent who shunned people and thus didn’t get out and do much. He, even moreso than me, is still perfectly happy staying in the house all day, in his PJs playing on the computer or watching TV. To my surprise, I ended up being the one exhorting us to get out and do something during our early years together. Quelle suprise! But in my adulthood I came to learn that normals don’t spend weekend after weekend roaming the house in their pajamas. They do things! So I was more likely to agitate for doing something, even it was going to the bookstore, getting a cappuccino and reading there (as opposed to doing so at home).
Zara’s arrival changed us even further. First, I found myself fearful of following in Mummy Dearest’s steps and raising another
broken chronically housebound child so I ended up pushing even further when she was an infant to get her out of the house regularly so she could see things. I would kick myself if I did nothing more than walk her around the block in the stroller. That wasn’t enough!
Then Z’s innate personality kicked in. As soon as she could formulate the thought (even if she was unable to express it fully) the kid wanted to be outside. Like all the time. Though her first word was “shoes,” her fifth word must have been “outside.” She felt the calling of the breeze, the grass, and the sky. (Her mother, on the other hand, had a fear of grass most of her young childhood because her mean ol’ auntie told her that there were bloodsuckers in the grass that would suck her blood in 2 seconds. It was only when she reached 3rd or 4th grade that she learned of the trick that had been played on her!) Thus very unlike her mother and father, Z would have loved a bedroom located on our front lawn! Being indoors was seen as torture. How dare we take her inside?! AdoringHusband and I both realized that we had to step up our game for this kid.
That’s when we really began trying to simulate being normal as best as two not-normal adults could possibly achieve. We’d ask ourselves, what do normal people do on the 4th of July? Then we’d do our best to emulate normal with variable success. Sometimes we executed flawlessly: take kidlet to see Santa and have her picture taken…easy peasy. Other times there were challenges: AdoringHusband said our township’s 4th of July parade started at 1 pm. Yet when we drove near the parade route, all we saw were torn streamers and no parade. We got to the starting point and found that the parade had started at 11 am and by 1 pm had long been finished. This caused AdoringHusband to get defensive about what he’s sure he read as a 1 pm start time, as Z kept asking in that repetitive way that 4 year olds do, “Where’s the parade, Daddy?” All the while I’m both pissed and amused, thinking, see what happens when you try to be normal? We get it wrong as often as we get it right.
Which brings me back to last Sunday. As I drove back from the shoot, I noticed many cars with bikes attached as they made their way to the park, bike trail or wherever people ride bikes. I had a flash of inspiration. What if we went on a family bike ride too?! That’s something normals do!” Whoa! I almost had to fan myself after that bit of normalspiration!
I arrived home just before noon to find both AdoringHusband and Z still in jammies (what did I tell you?) playing Dora Rescues The Ice Princess on the Wii. I took AH aside and shared my bright idea. Brilliant, he concurred. But where do we go for such a ride?
This is where the normals have us beat by a mile. In order to figure out where to have our great family bike ride, we must take to the computer, making extensive searches for “family bike trails.” Why? Because we have no freaking idea where normal families go to ride bikes. Our neighbors, who we like to emulate in their being normal, have not shared that secret with us. So AdoringHusband found a few potential places, agonized over the length of the trail and our 4 year olds ability to ride 20 miles (NOT!). Then he got into the perfectionistic worry of choosing the wrong bike trail for The Family Bike Ride, a fate that will not only earn him a D- on his report card of life, but will cause untold need for therapeutic intervention when Z gets older. I then had to validate his choice of Nockamixin State Park‘s 2 mile trail surrounding a lake as being an A+ selection. I then went to entertain Z while he got the bikes ready and the rack on my car. 40 minutes later he announced that he was done, though I was a bit surprised that though the bikes are outside, they have not been attached to the car. Clearly his done and my done are a bit different.
I went back in and packed snacks, filled water bottles and debated about plates and napkins or just napkins? What is the right choice? Just napkins, I decided. Z got the picnic blanket and we waited for AH. He was not out putting the bikes onto the car. Where was he? Comatose on the toilet, I thought. 15 minutes later, he returned downstairs. Z and I have all our supplies in the car.
“Are you going to get the bikes onto the car?” I asked.
“Yes, but I can’t find my wallet?”
“How do you lose your wallet in the house?” I started.
“Well I guess I don’t need it…I’ll just go without it,” he decided.
And then I had a flash of him getting plowed over by a passel of skateboarders on the trail, having a head injury and no ID for the police to figure out who he is. (Where Z and I are in this twisted fantasy, I have no idea.) “Oh go find your wallet,” I grunted.
Z and I got into the car and waited for
a year another 10 minutes before he came out with wallet to put the bikes on the rack. It then took a century 15 more minutes to get the two bikes secured. (Z’s went into the back of the wagon). He got into the car.
“Do you have the address of the park?” he asked.
“Of course not,” I snapped back, “you had all the printouts!”
He went back into the house. Z and I waited another millennium for his return before I decided to call him from the car.
“Yes honey” he answered.
“Will you be out soon?” I asked trying to keep the edge out of my voice.
“I’m just not sure that the park we chose is the right one. There’s another in Doylestown but it is 40 minutes away…”
“You’re back on the computer?!”
“Well, I just wanted to make sure…”
“Fine, we’re going to get gas. Will that give you enough time to figure it out?”
“Yes, you go get gas,” he answered hurriedly.
I then needed to convince Z that we were not leaving Her Daddy, but were going to get gas and come back for him. This accomplished, we returned to find Her Daddy ready to go to the original bike trail. And with that, we set off for our Family Bike Ride!
A fabulous time was had by all.
These photos were taken with my crappy point & shoot.
Z took this one herself. I think it is perfect. Her mommy & daddy reflecting their cockeyed version of being normal for the most important person in their lives.
As we went riding down the trail, Z asked, “When are we going to find something else fun at this park?” We just had to laugh…