how parents keep their sanity on cold winter days

Yesterday I felt no reason to venture into the tundra with my two charges, especially when it takes at least 20 minutes to get us all bundled up and out the door. Such is our lot in January in Minnesota. And in February. And much of March.

Today the headline on the cover of one of the free weekly publications I scan on my way out of the library caught my eye: “Hibernation: how to stay home in style this winter.” I just had to grab a copy. Of course, the article didn’t offer much inspiration for my current state. Then again, it made no claims about solutions for keeping preschool boys from bickering or hurting each other when in close proximity for extended periods. (Even so, I’ll hang on to it for the foolproof gnocchi recipe, which I may try soon.)

So I’m still brainstorming. What are some creative ways to pass an hour or two on those days when you’re feeling stuck inside with your kiddos?

what matters when you’re two

While doing some online research I came across this little tidbit of parental guilt, tacked on to the front of a doctoral thesis: “This thesis is dedicated to my beautiful daughter, Emily Shen, who needed me when I was not there.”

Yesterday, I think our two-year-old could identify with Emily. He woke up from his nap asking, “Daddy coming?”

“No,” I said, “Daddy has class tonight. Daddy’s not coming yet.” He wouldn’t be home until well after the boys’ bedtime.

After dinner our little one started talking about Daddy again, peering through the sliding glass door into the darkness, hoping for a glimpse of him. Then he ran about the house whimpering and checking the door every lap.

With the hope that his dad was in the office on the lower level, he stood at the top of the stairs and called down, “Daad-dy where aaare yooouuuu…?”

I tried explaining again that Daddy had to go to school this evening, but I had a feeling no explanation would suffice.

Today’s Friday, and Caleb will be pleased that his daddy will be home on time. After all, when you’re two you don’t really care if your father has an advanced degree. What matters is that he has time to play.

Related post: three-year-old logic

here and now vs. some day

Last week my brother Tim called me as he was sitting in his semi truck, waiting for someone to finish loading the trailer so he could get on the road heading north.  He talked about his last stop and the waiting involved there too. “Life is waiting,” he concluded. I wrote it down.

As a parent, I too always seem to be waiting for something. First I waited for each of my boys to be born. Then I waited – and waited – for them to sleep through the night. We waited for them to smile, to crawl, to walk, to talk, to be done with diapers. Some days I look forward to evening, when they’re asleep and quiet overtakes our house.

Now, I’m waiting for them to take on more of the household chores, to learn how to read, to begin school, to play word games …

But it’s not waiting as in wishing for time to pass more quickly. It’s waiting as in looking forward to the future. And like my brother, I want to make the most of the waiting times. That means living in the moment and storing up memories. Like the memory of how my little one puts on his trousers: holding his foot in his hand and shoving it into the pant leg. Or how my five-year-old reads Wild Animal Baby magazine to his little brother.

What are you looking forward to?

Or what are you living this moment?

"I don’t have time…"

“Book, book,” our little one approached his daddy holding up a current favorite, unaware of the present Monday-morning race against the clock that was preoccupying this daddy.

“I don’t have time. Go ask your mama,” he said. “Don’t have time,” he reflected. “When I came to this country, I used to think that was a joke. A lot of new immigrants don’t understand it.” He went on to explain that they may take offense against this excuse, employed even by their own relatives, and wonder how this country has made people so callous. The longer they stay, the more they get it, however. Is that a good thing or a bad thing?