The weekend with the godchildren went well. All chores and homework were completed by the time the parents arrived home and there were no deaths to report. I know that I enjoyed a weekend away from the craziness of urban living and I think they enjoyed a deviation from their normal routine.
All business. Homework started as soon as they arrived home from Day 2 of school. Piano practice. Dogs walked. Dinner. Baths. Bedtime stories. All lights out by 9:45 pm. At which point I was somewhat at a loss. I’ve never finished my day by 9:45. What to do? I relaxed in the sitting room, enjoying an unprecedented stretch of time to read, uninterrupted by sirens blaring in the street, footsteps and arguments upstairs, drunks yelling as they stumbled home from bars. Solitude. Peace. Quiet. Wow.
So this is what it feels like to be responsible for others. Making sure they wake up on time. Making sure they take their vitamins. Making sure they have everything necessary for school: homework, lunches, book bags. Making sure they leave the house on time. Walking the dogs. And still having time to play the piano before leaving for work. This isn’t so bad after all.
Friday evening. We’re all in the oldest’s room, sprawled on the bed, laid across the floor. “What are we going to do tonight?” I asked excitedly. “We can do anything we want! What do you feel like?” I was met by blank stares and mumbles of “I don’t know…” Teenagers.
We picked up Japanese takeout and rented 3 DVDs from Blockbuster, “Ella Enchanted,” “13 Going On 30,” and “Chasing Liberty.” The daughter definitely has the strongest personality. But the boys didn’t complain. While not the highest quality movies, they were entertaining nonetheless. In between movies we talked about technology. Georgie, the youngest, turned to me and asked, “Nouna, did they have color tv when you were a kid?” Oh, my god.
Slept in, had sugar-loaded cereal for breakfast. Took the dogs to the park. Relished the hot, hot sunshine. Enjoyed lunch at a local burger joint. Returned home. And then I turned neurotic. “We are not going to watch tv all weekend. We don’t get to spend much time together. We’re going to enjoy family time (subtext: dammit. you will have fun. right now.). What game do you want to play?” They stared at me blankly. “Monopoly? Taboo? Scattegories? I see them all on the shelf. What’ll it be?”
After an eternity, the youngest said, “Let’s play Taboo.”
We decided it would be the godmother/godson team against the brother/sister team. The highlight of the game was Georgie, giving me clues, saying, “He’s the older brother of Michael. He was in the Jackson Five. He sang. He danced.” I racked my brain. “Tito?” Blank stare. “Jackie?” Violent shaking of head. “Jermaine?” More violent shaking of head. I couldn’t recall the others. Who were they? George made a strategic decision and passed. At the end of the round I asked him, “What was the card we missed? What was it?”
Oh, goodness. “Uhm, George. He wasn’t a part of the Jackson Five. He’s not related to Michael. He, uhm, well, he ran for President several years ago. He’s the leader of the Rainbow Coalition.” Again, I was met by blank stares.
“Okay, enough family games. We’re going to the City!” I declared. Within half an hour we were showered and in the car, crossing the Bay Bridge, on the way to the Metreon.
After a couple of hours of virtual bowling and Dance, Dance Revolution, and dinner at a glorified food court, we reached another decision point. “Well, we could go see ‘Hero,’ or ‘Princess Diaries 2,‘” I said, reciting movie choices. The oldest one looked at me and calmly stated, “Maybe we should head back home. It is almost 11:00.” And who’s in charge here? We followed his lead and went home, watching more DVDs and munching on popcorn until well after midnight.
Around 1:00 pm the phone rang. It was the housekeeper. “Hi, Hilda. How are you?” “Good. Can I talk to Georgie? I want to wish him a happy birthday.” Holy crap. We had had his party last weekend. Everyone had totally forgotten his birthday was today. Damn.
While he was on the phone with the housekeeper I rallied the other two. “We totally forgot it was his birthday. What should we do?” We decided on a birthday lunch. At Chevy’s. They sing. They give you ice cream. It would be good.
Except. That it’s been several years since I’ve lived in the East Bay. What should have been a 10 minute ride to the restaurant turned into over an hour. I drove around in circles. I passed the same streets over and over. I couldn’t get to the Chevy’s. The birthday boy fell asleep in the front seat (“Shotgun! I call shotgun!”) and was awakened only when I spotted a Volkswagen Beetle and hit him, shouting, “Punchbuggy blue!”
We arrived to the restaurant and enjoyed a bland Mexican lunch, accompanied by a pitcher of virgin margaritas. It was amazing. As reticent as these teenagers normally were, at meal time they became fluent conversationalists. It was quite nice.
We returned home, finished weekend chores, read, and watched video games. The parents returned home; it was time for me to return to the City. I’m not sure it’s something I would want to do everyday, but it was a great escape for a weekend.