For spring break this year I decided to give the children the gift of unstructured time, meaning I gently suggested that if they didn't want to help me pack things in preparation for the floor people, build an enormous cabinet for the kitchen, or clean things, then they best find something better to do. But before all that, on Monday when James and Mary still had school and I wanted to sneak in a big kid activity, we headed to a park we enjoy for what was supposed to be a morning of hiking.
I thought: What a great way to get my walk in and spend time with the kids and do something new! They thought: LET'S WADE IN THAT FREEZING WATER.
Air temperature: 63 degrees. Water temperature: I don't even want to know.
Giant logs, fast flowing water, and rocks as far as the eye can see? It's paradise.
They had a blast moving these two huge logs across this little stream together, one on each end. Adorable teamwork. Then Wes slipped and became completely soaked. He was unfazed. Shortly after that, and completely without my permission or prior knowledge, Charley was SWIMMING ACROSS a deeper part of the creek. He scrambled onto a rock ledge, yelled across the river that "That was so cold it made my chest queasy" then climbed up on top of a huge rock. It was a triumphant moment.
Wes continued to play until he started feeling really cold, so he stripped off his wet clothes and wrapped up in my friend's sweatshirt and her daughter's fleece Anna and Elsa blanket. He curled into my lap while I talked to my friend and we watched Charley up on top of his rock.
This was quite a nice time until Charley realized that the only way back to the car was by swimming back across the river. This was a problem because he was now completely freezing. I encouraged him to JUST DO IT because I had no other ideas. We cheered him on, we clapped for him, we chanted his name, but he only became more and more hysterical. Finally, I rolled up my pants and waded in. I got tantalizingly close but getting all the way over to him meant walking through waist-deep, fast-moving water and there was no freaking way. He paced up and down looking for an alternative way to get off the rock. Finally I found another, shallower way to get closer (I only had to go in up to my hips, not to my waist, a small improvement).
My friend, a mother of two sweet girls who would probably never swim across a stream in MARCH then require rescuing, took a flipbook of pictures of the exciting, not at all approved or recommended by my physical therapist for patients recovering from spinal disk injuries, rescue.
The same friend, who had worn appropriate rubber boots, waded across a shallow place upstream to retrieve Charley's shoes. We are delightful park company.
Despite blasting the heater the whole way, we were all freezing the whole way home. We were supposed to do a quick change then run to the grocery store but instead I took a twenty-minute excruciatingly hot shower and came downstairs to find both boys wearing cozy, dry clothes, wrapped in blankets and watching a movie. I settled into the couch with another blanket and my book. It was glorious.
The rest of the break has not been nearly so fun or restful, but it has been incredibly productive. Tuesday the guys come to replace all the flooring on the first floor, so I've been packing up boxes of stuff, cleaning, purging, and also on the side building a large wooden bookshelf in the garage with my dad. It's going to hold the backpacks, lunchboxes, shoes, frog tank, cookbooks, and even have a place to display some pretty pottery I normally keep put away because I live with The Borrowers. I figure I'm safe because the shelf is seven feet off the ground and they won't even know it's up there.
Tomorrow we go on our annual all-church retreat, which takes place at a summer camp alongside a river in a beautiful canyon. We are all beyond excited about it though slightly apprehensive about the five to eight inches of rain expected to fall overnight Friday. Charley said he wants to cuddle up under blankets in our cabin and listen to the rain fall as we sing songs together (nature/nurture?). We may need canoes to get back home on Sunday, but DANGIT we are going to have a BLAST.