This weekend was, as is typical, jam-packed. We spent all of it together, as a family, so that was great. Friday night was spent out with friends, Saturday started with karate (which all four of us study) from 8-2, then off to spend the night with another family to celebrate a birthday. We came home by 1 on Sunday, but there was homework, laundry, grocery shopping, and a look ahead to the week in front of us… which, like it or not, involved way way way too much scheduling and figuring and nuttiness.
We love dinner together, and Sunday nights are really THE night that we all get to hang a bit and enjoy it all. The boys love to cook with us and usually, we all get involved in the kitchen. But this Sunday, my husband John and I made some conscious choices: let our boys chill a bit and hang out with each other, cook some simple comfort food and just relax.
We decided on an old favorite – The Pioneer Woman’s pasta with chicken thighs and a big salad – yummy and simple. Truthfully, we asked the boys what they wanted to eat and got lots of different, complicated and adventurous answers (they love trying out new recipes). Usually, we’re up for it, or if we’re not, we motivate anyway. But this time, we decided not to listen. It was SO the right choice: we all ate well, dinner was quick and easy, and it was a cozy, early evening. All of which, after our busy weekend, was much needed.
Luca spent the afternoon reading The Red Badge of Courage. Not at all an easy read for a 9 year-old, and we talked a lot about metaphor, the Civil War, and other light and simple (!) topics. We pushed him a bit not to do just a standard drawing for his visual aid but to try something different and use pastels to represent what Crane describes as “the fog of war.” We talked about how “fog” has at least 2 meanings: literal fog, haziness, smoke (in this case, the smoke from guns and cannon fire) and “feeling foggy” or things being unclear, not making sense. One of the most moving scenes we read was a moment when the battle stopped for a bit and the protagonist Henry realized the sun was out, and it was a gorgeous summer day. Luca wanted to include this beauty in his drawing because it “made no sense” that such beauty could exist in the midst of such violence.
Our 11 year-old, Tano, had several hours of homework on Saturday: French, humanities, writing, math and a science report and PowerPoint presentation on truffle fungi. On Sunday he practiced piano, worked on songs and memorizing lines for Guys and Dolls (he’s got to be “off script” in a week).
We figured the boys had earned some relaxation.
As for John and me, we honestly could have filled the entire weekend with work and still been behind on Monday morning. We both seem to be under an inordinate number of deadlines lately. We traded off a bit on Sunday, spotting one another so that we could each at least respond to a few emails. We talked about our options and agreed that, as much as it would make Monday that much busier, we would take Sunday night off. We figured WE had earned some relaxation time, too.
So what happened? John and I danced in the kitchen, sipped a bit of wine and practiced some karate moves on one another (don’t ask). Luca and Tano hung out in front of the fire and played Magic (a card game they love). We all ate a delicious, easy, healthy and inexpensive meal. During dinner we talked about the fog of war. We also talked about The Lord of the Rings, who Gollum is, why he’s such a sad character and why we’re not quite ready for them to see the movies yet. We also talked about why books are both scarier than and not quite as scary as movies.
We laughed together, talked and filled our bellies with simple good food. Even before 9 pm the dishes were done, boys were tucked and John and I found ourselves also ready to crash. Monday morning and the coming week were going to be difficult, but what we gained on Sunday night made it all a little easier to face.