The legend of the Wendigo holds that the creature who consumes the flesh of his fellow man gains the additional strength of the victim. Life with children is like that sometimes. My kids seem to get stronger and more active as the day goes on – no matter the number of walks, bike trips, swimming dates, and garden-play sessions they indulge in – and sometimes as early as 4 PM I’m ready to lie on the couch but at that point they want to crawl on me or, soon thereafter, eat dinner. By the time the meal is over it’s Ralph who takes over most the household chores; I admit defeat and although mentally awake my energy level has dipped; tomorrow will be another day.
Today the children and I spent an easy, sunny trip to Olympia with a friend J. and her daughter E. The children’s exploits set the pace for much of the trip: playground tomfoolery, a pier walk (Nels and I were adroit at spotting jellyfish), some time in the fountain (why is it although I fully support my children’s right to play in full public in their underwear I also feel the twinge of “neglectful mom” when I do so?), hot dogs from a very impressive little Chicago-style stand*, and a trip to the Hands On Childrens Museum. J. and I rated a ten-minute trip to the fabric store; but we did make determinations that were helpful and relevant to our goals.
I am glad my children had so much fun with a little friend, and a good enough time playing to their heart’s content (although when we got home it was play play play swim play play some more). But for selfish reasons I found the car ride wonderful in having time with J., a woman intelligent and progressive-minded; someone who seems to match me in conversation pace, empathetic drive, analysis, and interests. My mind and heart have been battling for some time now over decisions in the family: new journeys, additional responsibilities, identity crises. In my fashion I tend to research much, and discuss much, with the small but treasured few who provide me good feedback. I work and work and digest and then an answer comes forth. Today J. was someone who helped me along in these ways, besides being a genuinely pleasant person to spend time with.
This evening Sophie, despite missing a significant amount of swim lessons as her bike ride scars healed, passes her last session with flying colors. She has now graduated to “Flying Fish” should she take lessons in addition to the three to five days weekly at the pool on the swim team. My mother glows with pride tonight at our celebratory ice cream sundae – she’s so glad Sophie is such a strong swimmer. I’m just glad my daughter has found something she loves to do, over and over and over. Perhaps this is in part not merely concerning the character and health of my child but for my own sense of personal dissatisfaction in myself; that I am a flighty, purposeless person easy to succeed at many endeavors, easy to please in most as well; but someone who given some sort of discipline and focus might have accomplished “more”. Although I enjoy my day-to-day life – especially my freedoms – immensely, I have never given up the notion that a more rigorous and driven lifestlye would somehow lend itself to better rewards, although what these might be I could not say.
* My choices: veggie dog on poppyseed bun, sweet mustard, dill pickle spear, and sport peppers!