Sunday, August 10, 2008

"It's/Id's Not for You"

It's been a long, somewhat productive, and seemingly always challenging weekend.

Ever since Friday, Lynda and I knew that we were determined to get outside and take advantage of this autumnal weather that was forecasted for Saturday and Sunday. But, responsibilities always exist, weather or not. So, we had to balance the definite task that we knew were necessary to start, but we were also quite focused on finding a time and a place for fun.

First, we drew up a list--chores and possible ideas for fun. Naturally, the list of chores was longer, but it did have the benefit of being specific. Vacuum, groceries, mow grass, work on mounds of dirt. All quite clear and definite. The ideas for fun included nebulous ideas like zoo? fair? pool? The Whens, the Where's, the possible With Whoms all left in the blank spaces besides the ideas themselves.

We kicked things off quickly on Saturday morning. The girls obliged by sleeping in late (they were tired because they stayed up later than usual--even for a Friday night). Lynda and I had our breakfast and coffee and had a brief discussion about what should come first. I knew that I was going to try and tackle the dirt mound task--something that I had been studiously avoiding (even some times for good reasons!) for about a month now.

The situation is this: after the patio was poured, we had lots of leftover dirt. What to do with it? Well, I certainly didn't want to keep it, but Lynda reminded me that, due to a pre-existing condition of our house when we purchased it, we could use that dirt. You see, the flower/weed beds that surround the side and back of the house were improperly graded, allowing water to sit next to the foundation rather than flowing away from the house into the yard. We could use the backfill to regrade the beds. Unfortunately, since I'd let the big mound of dirt sit at the side of the house for around a month, it more closely resembled chunky concrete.

Telling myself that at least the weather was beautiful, I rubbed on some sunscreen and got to work early Saturday morning. I started at the back of the pile, near the backyard and started hacking away at the end of the long, log-shaped mound. As I feared, the sun-baked dirt had a nice crust that needed penetrating. So, I scrabbled some away from the pile, and lifted it into the wheelbarrow. Underneath, it wasn't too bad but since I think this entire neighborhood was built on top of the dirt the city dug out of Hoover Reservoir thirty years ago, there are LOTS of rocks, and bits of shale throughout. So, I had to break down some of the larger, harder chunks in the wheelbarrow and sift out the rocks. After I had my first barrow full, I headed to one end of the bed to begin the regrading (retrograding?).

Here the second problem presented itself. Weeds, and lots of them. Some of an impressive size. Some gardeners will tell you that weeds are just persistent/unappreciated flowers. I can attest that, if left alone, weeds can grow to impressive heights and they do indeed flower. But, I knew that I should try to do something. So, task 1B began. I pulled and cut and trimmed back offending growth to discover where the back of the ungraded beds were. This work went pretty quickly and soon enough I was tossing dirt where it needed to go.

Progress!

Well, the job continued for quite a while as the hours spun and the world turned. Lynda breakfasted the kids and got them to and from gymnastics class that morning and still I toiled at the side of the house--digging, crumbling, weeding, grading, hacking, sweating. If the temperature hadn't been at least ten degrees below the average temperature for August, I would have died. But I reminded myself to take advantage of the temperate weather and keep going. I had no music, no conversation, nothing but my thoughts randomly floating untethered in my brain as I worked. I composed, rewrote, redescribed this part of the post again and again. (What I'm writing now had NO relation to those thoughts, of course.) I started out blaming Lynda because this had been her idea, but I was the one doing it. I then chastised myself for being selfish and tried to enjoy the outdoors and the work on it's own terms. Lord knows I don't get enough sustained exercise.

By the time lunchtime rolled around and the rest of the family was home from gymnastics and grocery store I was pretty well knackered. I'd sweat through my shirt at least once and though I had regraded almost 80 percent of the side bed, I hadn't even shifted more than 25 percent of the entire dirt mound. Clearly, I am going to have to use some of this dirt in the backyard beds, but that will have to wait for another day.

Lynda wanted to help out some in the yard work and she wanted a break from the kids, so after I had cleaned myself up, she tackled the dirt for a few minutes, then gave up and decided to do other yard chores. (Truthfully, I had suspected that she would come to this conclusion, but I wasn't about to say that to her face.) I stayed inside and played with Hannah. Sarah and Grace went over to the neighbor's house to play for a while.

****

After Lynda showered and the kids came back from next door, it was time to think of something fun. But here is where we often run into trouble. Lynda and I put such pressure on ourselves to do great things when we set out minds to this kinds of weekend outings--especially when we know it's Great Weather. So, we discussed options. This was the final weekend of the State Fair, but I was reluctant to do that. I was worried about the crowds, the expense, the likelihood that the girls might yet be a bit too young to get full benefit . . . I just was worried that we'd make the commitment and spend the money and it would all blow up in our faces, serving to Ruin the Weekend. So, we proceeded to fret about other alternatives, discussing other ways to Ruin the Weekend? Since we were already at midafternoon, we discounted the Zoo because we wouldn't have enough time. The pool required more exertion than we felt like undertaking after the morning of yard work. So, while we verged on just calling everything off in Despair, we chose to drive over the Sharon Woods park and play on the playgrounds, maybe take a hike in the woods.

It turned out to be a good choice. Though Grace was not too jazzed about the hike through the woods, they enjoyed playing at one of the playgrounds and we couldn't help but soak in the sun. On the way home we even stopped and tried a new restaurant that we've driven past to and from work many times. We liked it and generally, it was a good end to a productive yet outgoing type of day. Sure, the dirt is still out there, but I'll keep chipping away at it. It'll be gone eventually.

****

Today, we got up and got to church on time and did our stuff. Lynda had a Sunday School meeting afterwards, so I took the kids home and got their lunch prepared. We finished up eating right about the time Lynda got back. We had decided to go to the zoo today, since we weren't going to be spending all day in the yard like we had on Saturday.

Predictably, when we got there, Grace wanted to ride on the merry-go-round and Sarah wanted to get Dippin' Dots ice cream (conveniently located next to the carousel). Though this happens each time we go to the zoo, it never fails to irritate me. (It didn't help that some genius decided to replace the SIX simple token machines that dispense carousel rides with ONE hi-tech Z-card machine. So, I was waiting in the Z-card line for about ten minutes to check our card balance only to find out that it wasn't accepting bills. I dumped $10--via credit card--on the card, but it had not improved my mood. As S & G & I waited for out turn to ride, I learned that since the Z-card machine was malfunctioning, we were allowed ride for free. The day was looking up!)

Eventually the required carousel ride and Dippin' Dots were done. We'd been at the zoo for approximately thirty minutes and had not even ATTEMPTED to see an animal. I sarcastically remarked to Lynda that we should just start calling the zoo "the carousel/ice cream place." Lynda asked me why i continued to be upset by this time after time. "It's not for you," she said. We just want to get them out of the house and outside.

That got me to thinking. "It's not for you" is probably as good as any simple description of parenthood as anything else you might think of. Constantly we have to put aside our own desires and goals for those of our kids, and they never realize that we are doing it. If I were allowed to follow my own Freudian Id desires, I would have spent the entire weekend sitting on the patio reading books and drinking a succession of cool drinks. But I can't succumb to my Id's desires. I can't be selfish and when I try to be, it usually only makes everyone else angry and makes me feel ashamed. So, I should let the kids have their carousel and ice cream with no complaints. It's not like I don't spend a lot of the rest of their days telling them what to do.

****

After the ice cream, we did dedicate ourselves to seeing animals. (On a positive note, we did avoid the third zoo-related humbug . . . the play area that sits a ways from the carousel. I often don't like that either because can find those multileveled areas at McDonalds or at Magic Mountain or somewhere else . . . but only at the zoo can you see orangutans or white tigers or otters. But--usually--"it's not for me.")

We turned away from the play area this time and decided to head over to North America. We saw bears, otters, pumas, moose. The girls got their faces painted and even though Hannah has been struggling with a cold, she tolerated things well.

Yet another day in the beautiful sun and I guess, even with the drama, the indecision, the turmoils . . . it was a good weekend.

3 comments:

Sven Golly said...

Whew! After all that, I'm plumb knackered!

lulu said...

You and Lynda are correct--it's not for you. Still, you have to take some time for yourself. I am at the point where if I don't, I'm going to continue to be the Big Snippy Jerk that I've been the last week or so. It's funny that you mentioned reading--that's what I want to do, too. Read and watch movies. The royal luxury of that!
Lulu

j.t. said...

my parents' strategy was to buy a house with a fenced-in yard and shove us into it. only one in three of us is in prison, so i'd say it succeeded.