At the beginning of this weekend, I dropped some friends off at the airport, and in return they lent me their lovely new minivan for the week. Since we usually have to pay for a car rental for weekend adventures, when we get a free car, we normally plan a fun outing.
But that was not to be this weekend. First of all, even though many people have Martin Luther King Day off work, my husband’s office has never taken that holiday, so I wasn’t planning for a three-day-weekend. When a friend asked if they could come over Monday with their kid, who like mine had the day off school, I said sure. Same thing when one of my kid’s friends invited her over for a playdate on Monday. After all, it was just a day when I’d be home with my three kids, nothing special.
Then, partway through Saturday, my husband casually mentioned that he had a three-day weekend. Aargh! I was annoyed that we were wasting a long weekend, with free transportation, by staying home.
That morning my husband and I had enjoyed an impromptu brunch date, putting our oldest daughter in charge of the littles. We went for a run together, hit an unexpected half-price sale at Goodwill, and ate at a restaurant that I wouldn’t have brought the kids to. Then I went home and took the kids to the playground for hours while I caught up on magazine reading.
Sunday morning, Erik used his bike and public transit to get into San Francisco to watch the Packer playoff game at a friend’s house. I dropped Toth off at a birthday party and watched it from home. In the evening we played a board game with our kids.
Monday, we went out to breakfast with a friend. The friend suggested we take a hike since it was a beautiful day. The kids groaned. I suggested we visit the USS Hornet. The kids moaned. We dropped Pebbles off at her playdate, and then our friends arrived to spend the day with their adorable dog. We played board games. We picked up Pebbles. The preschoolders from next door came over to play with Toth. I walked to Trader Joe’s with my friend and brought back a bunch of delicious food, which Erik grilled for everyone. Our friend read Shel Silverstein poems to Toth. The kids played, the adults chatted. We drank bloody marys.
A few times during the day, I mentioned that we should have gone somewhere. If only the kids would have been cooperative. If only my husband had let me know about his three-day weekend.
At the end of the day, our friends went home and Erik and I walked to the beach with the kids and watched the tidepools turn pink with the sky. We watched long-billed birds treat the sandy pools as a buffet/running track. We watched the silhouette of San Francisco darken on the horizon, and then watched lights pop up on the buildings and bridge. The kids ran around the dark beach, pretending that a little tent they’d brought was a kite or that they were windsurfing.
Finally, we walked to the ice cream parlor and ordered cones. While waiting in line, we took turns picking one another up, and found that everyone in the family could still (barely) pick up each younger person. We giggled until people stared at us and started giggling themselves. We walked home, shivering after having eaten ice cream, and gave the kids warm baths, and I combed out my daughters’ long hair and braided it, while singing and old campfire song I’d suddenly remembered.
After the kids were tucked in bed, I noticed the borrowed minivan at the curb, untouched since I had brough it home Saturday morning. All weekend I had lamented not driving it anywhere, but really, where could we have gone to find more happiness than we had right here?