9.17.2010

there are images to accompany the words

sometimes I think I should start a parenting blog
other times I think I should start a marriage blog
the marriage blog would have to be anonymous
the marriage blog would have to change the names to protect the innocent... and the not so innocent

the post right here... this would go on the parenting blog


today it is Friday the school year has begun and the kids already have the day off
the boys have the day off following two days where Grant was home sick
today is some sort of teacher enrichment day
I love and trust our children's school principal

these days are vital... it seems like a lark... but I suspect that there is some serious working and planning occuring on these days
our teachers are all being instructed to run classes in a different way than things were done in the little red school house
no... there is not the blackboard computer technology... there should be... but there is not
but there is a different structure to the classroom set up and there is a different way of dealing with the students
very different than our default settings... which is often yelling

days off with the kids can be tough... especially after the summer with all of its days off
it is always best to have a plan
the more structured the plan the better the chance that something will happen
that plan is best to set in advance rather than the day off
I did not have a solid plan

selling the plan is not always easy... especially if that flimsy plan is being created on the fly
it is best not to present things as an option but rather as an instruction
the children should be told what they will be doing
so often when presented as an option the children will say no

the children often say no to any and everything presented to them
option or instruction

during the weekend past the kids were less than excited about the notion of Adams Morgan Day
they were not so enthused about the potential that a festival had to offer
chicken on a stick and some live bands?
honestly... I was hesitant myself

I had seen online that they had extended the day and added a kid section
so... in an effort to get on the bikes and out of the house we went to Adams Morgan Day
it was a good choice
most any choice is better than staying in the house and driving each other batty

each member of the family got suited up and got on their bike
we rode the short ride on the city streets and bypassed the WABA bike Valet so that we were closer to the action at the bottom of the hill
the boys got to play on many inflatable moon bounce like structures and then also the trampoline attached to the bungee cords which means they had a blast... the bungee-trampoline combo is a favorite of theirs

I got what I wanted...
We got out of the house, I entertained my children, and my children some exercise
the boys got what they wanted
which of coursed involved some ice cream after the rides

today I was met with objection when presenting various morning options
the objection was so strong that I just went back to he computer and allowed them to watch more television
sometimes it is not worth the fight... the day is long... they should have some time to do what they want... within reason
after a lunch that consisted of left overs from last night's dinner I felt it was time to get out of the house
no more television no more Wii

there was again objection even though I was instructing and not offering options
the objection as per usual came from my six year old Grant
nine year old Dean tends to be pretty agreeable
rationalizing about all the times Grant did not want to go but ended up going and having fun did not strengthen my persuasion
my "we are going to ride our bikes to the museum" plan was 86ed

Grant proposed Heller's Bakery

I could also feel the draw of getting some donuts
but I did not feel that the ride to the bakery on Mount Pleasant Street would justify a ride
sure when these guys were wee ones with training wheels that was a solid objective
now these guys are capable of much more

so I took Grants idea and morphed it
sure... we can get donuts at Heller's and then go to Malcolm X Park
I got the bikes ready while Dean filled up the water bottles
six year old Grant who is more than capable tried lending a hand in pulling the bikes out of the garage
it was awkward having two people manage a one man job

on the bikes and up the road we were alternating between the sidewalks and the streets of Mount Pleasant
always trying to put ourselves where we are most safe
all the while I instructed my boys to look and listen for traffic start
looking far in advance for cars coming through the intersection or out of the alley

at Lamont Park the boys looped the handicap ramp up to the cement stage then down the stairs
they looped the stairs enough times that I figured I might as well take a few photos
the boys continued to ride their bikes while I went across the street to Heller's Bakery
it is awkward for a parent in this day and age to blink for fear that something will happen to our children if they are not within our sight

the boys were still looping that same loop on their bikes when I got back with the donuts
I took a few more photos as the boys displayed more comfort and more confidence
then site of the box of donuts captured their attention
in an effort to prolong our adventure I reminded than that we were going to eat the donuts at Malcolm X Park

Grant proposed returning home with the donuts
I reminded them of the plan
but before we left off for for Malcolm X Park I asked that the boys go down the stairs a few more times so I could snap a couple of pictures
this was as much for the photos as it was for me to get to watch them ride the stairs and getting them to ride the stairs a few more times
I gave a little coaching about balance over the rear wheel getting back on the seat... using the legs as shock absorbers... extending the arms... being strong yet loose

the boys enjoyed riding their bikes on the stairs as much as I enjoyed watching them

a few more times down the stairs and my helmet was on and I was on my bike
we rode together on the sidewalk
Dean and Grant gave polite "excuse mes" as we weaved through the people on the sidewalk
there was again objection from Grant as we pushed closer to Malcolm X Park
I knew his hesitation usually when we go to the park we go to the lower level on our way back from somewhere
I could tell that Grant was trying to avoid the hill

my effort to tame his grumpiness failed as he could not understand that we were going to the top level with the bikes and would not have to ride down the hill so we would not have to ride up the hill

I tried to keep Grant moving forward
the distance was just a few city blocks
we were at the park and at the top of the hill in less time than it would take to explain things clearly

I knew that hunger was part of the disagreement in Grant's physiology...
something that donuts would cure better than words

there was a great relief when we got there and it became clear that there would be no hill climbing on this day
we all got off our bikes and took off our helmets before tearing into our box of donuts
we all took a look at the statue of a woman in a suit of armor
there was an interesting mix of people buzzing around

a few older men doing laps on bicycles
a number of people of various age, sex, and race jogging laps around the park
mothers pushing strollers
nannys pushing strollers
people meandering about most of which stopping at the top railing to look over at the cascading fountain below

the boys climbed the statue

hungry I opened the box of donuts
the boys were off that statue with speed and agility
Dean ate his donuts slowly while Grant and I devoured ours
when Dean was finished after a donut and a half I had him throw his remaining piece away rather than having Grant or I take in any more empty calories

with the donuts done the boys each sucked down some gatorade from their water bottles
then we all sat
the sitting did not last very long
I got ancy and pulled my camera from my bag
the boys got up and ran races from the top level to the bottom and back
Dean gave his younger brother a healthy head start
as the boys ran their races I snapped a few photographs

again the hover parent in me felt a tinge of anxiety when the boys were out of sight
they returned to my view and my heart rate drifted back to normal
I got anxiety about the freedom that a child can be granted in the city
Amber Alerts and CNN Breaking News make a seldom occurrence sound like it should be an everyday fear
movies like Minority Report have minor subplots that echo in the recesses of my brain and have me fearing a very unlikely "what if"

the boys climbed on the statue
this time trying to climb up on the horse
the parent in my told them that they could not climb so high
then the boys amused themselves with some investigation of the statue of a horse's privates
it amused me to see them so amused
their curiousity seemed normal and did not extent too long

we got back on the bikes and rode a lap around the park
each time we neared an option that would send us to the lower level Grant panicked
back on the sidewalk along 16th Street we pointed north trying to take the sidewalk with the least amount of walkers

back into the neighborhood of Mount Pleasant we mixed the sidewalk and the street
a few times young Grant took the sidewalk when we were on the street
I tried to explain to him to stay together as a group
that I am only trying to calculate the variables for where we are as a group
all the while trying to point out the dangers of passing an alleyway or a driveway
on the sidewalk with the absences of a solid line of sight... the worst case scenario is pretty ugly

our ride home was straight home
there was no slowing or stopping for anything
back home in an effort to keep the boys active I propsed them knocking on a neighbor's door to our pleasure they made contact over the fence a few neighbors were going hiking in Rock Creek with their son and their dog
we were invited... better than that... the boys were invited without me which leaves me here rather than outside that is fine I expect to be at Dean's soccer practice this afternoon which will have me getting plenty of exercise

some things I am trying to be more conscious of as a parent

options are good
but there is a time when a child needs to do what the parent says
the child does not always have to have a say
that said... it is impossible to "make the child" do something
especially if you want them to enjoy it

but... the children can be swayed
the trip to Heller's Bakery is a classic carrot at the end of the string
we have used bike rides to Target or Border's books for them to spend birthday money
adventures to the museum or off to grab lunch
better than a bribe

so often when we get up in the morning my younger son says "I do not want to ride my bike home from school today"
I ignore this and load the bikes in the car anyway
some things are best not thought about
some things are best if they are just done


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