Last Monday was a no school day. There’s been some crazy dynamic in the family lately and for a while on days when we have a whole luxurious day ahead of us– with nothing but possibility. The possibilities become some serious kind of liability. We don’t remember to organize a playdate ahead of time. We call one or two or three people who are busy and everyone feels bad, or let down or bummed out, and my daughter gets despondent and feels that no one wants to play with her and we adults get despondent but spend the whole day saying, “well, what should we do?” with tones of forced cheerfulness. And we wait to hear back from someone or feel disappointed that they were busy. Then we’re miserable and we fight with each other, saying, “I’m not going to let this day be ruined because…” as we are in fact approaching that precipice of the ruined day or at least a day some portion of which will go very badly. This is a kind of nuance no one I know writes about, and it may seem silly, but this is the stuff of family misery. For our family at least. Other families have their own version–the thing that happens over and over and always ends badly but about which it takes some time to figure out what should go differently.
My daughter and partner were camping with my daughter’s girl scout troop over last weekend which was a beautiful, fall weekend. I was going to be with my daughter for the no-school-day on Monday. I said, before they left, “I will make a playdate for you with one of your friends. And if I cannot we will not call people on Monday– we’ll go to the farm where we can go apple-picking. We’ll spend the day together. Just us.” Which is just what we did.