Outside Week: The Sun

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I don’t get outside as much as I should. I don’t take the kids out as much as they should get out, either.

I see photos of other parents taking their children out for bike rides or hikes and wonder, Where do they get the time? And, more importantly, Where do they get the energy?

Part of the problem is that my wife and I start the bedtime routine at 6:30—a time requested by my exhausted firstborn when she began kindergarten. By the time I get home from work and we all eat dinner, there’s not many minutes left for a trip anywhere.

Sure, I suppose we could take a walk around the block. And as I type this, I’m wondering why we don’t. And as I type that, I’m remembering that a simple stroll through our complex is anything but, since one kid will start complaining that she’s tired and wants to be carried, which will prompt the other to want to be carried—both by the same parent, both on the shoulders. Since that’s physically impossible, it becomes a fight.

In preparation for a jog-a-thon at my firstborn’s school earlier this year, she suggested training by running laps around our complex in the mornings. We tried it, and the first attempt started strong with a burst of enthusiastic speed, followed by a dawdling hunt for sticks and leaves that resembled letters so she could spell her name out of items from nature.

It’s not like we’re cave dwellers. We do take walks, and by “we” I mean “my wife and kids while I’m at work.” We aim to get out and about on the weekends: to local parks, usually. When it’s warmer, we swim at the pool or play games in the spa. And we just signed up my firstborn for softball and my secondborn for ballet, so there’s activity right there.

I don’t really have any good excuses for not getting out more, though. I mean, I do have excuses, but they’re not good ones. And I certainly don’t want to be mumbling something about tight schedules while my pasty children shield their eyes and hiss toward the sky, “The yellow face! It burns us!”

How do you incorporate the outdoors into your (presumably) busy life?

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Imagination Week: The Pool

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My girls love going to the spa/pool at the center of our condo complex. A trip there can be a bit difficult, since the 6-year-old wants to spend her time in the cold water, while the 4-year-old wants to stay in the warm water. I have to act as a sort of mediator, saying, “Well, now, it’s not that frigid over here” and “Sweating is good for you! If you’re too hot, just sit on the edge there for a while.”

What the girls do agree on, however, is that they’re mermaids. They love to play the Mermaid Game, which can range from the two of them being mermaids that I’m trying to catch—either to eat or to put into an aquarium or mer-jail—to the three of us being mer-folk in search of treasure.

I have a lot of fun seeing where their imaginations take us, but I do often end up mediating once again.

My firstborn once declared that our mer-journeys would take us to “the Depths of Dismay—the Depths of Spain.” That meant the pool. We jumped in there, then found ourselves pulled back to the spa by my secondborn.

The girls were actually very good about pushing for their respective path through the game. Nobody got angry or rude. Still, it was a bit like a war of imaginations. My firstborn likes to set up elaborate scenarios that will take us to, say, every filter in the spa and pool. My secondborn tends to solve such pretend dilemmas very easily.

“I found a map!”

“Me too!”

“It says there are four treasures.”

“I found them all!”

“No, it says that those are not the real treasures. The real ones are in the deepest—”

“My octopus got them!”

I can usually get the girls to take turns leading the story, which typically turns into a cold vs. hot adventure, with me bearing the brunt of the constant temperature shifts. Still, the sunken chests packed with gold, pearls, and various gems and jewels make it worth it—as do my girls’ pruney fingers and satisfied smiles when we finally step onto dry land, towel off, magically grow legs, and head home.