Lately, parenthood has become a race. With one child going to high school in the fall and the other starting junior high, it’s like we’re trying to pack in all the fun before it’s too late and both kids are too embarrassed to associate with us any longer.
At least this is what we hear from all the cool, professional parents who have already experienced this. They tell us that eventually, like when they’re 30 or so, your kids come back around to liking you again. But soon, and thankfully my husband and I are not so feeble as to have forgotten going through this ourselves, they will be mortified to do any of the following:
Go to the movies with us within 30 miles of home.
Go bike riding with us within 60 miles of home.
Be seen in public with us. Anywhere.
I suspect the bike riding is even in jeopardy based on the reaction we got from our sweet, little Alec when we recently asked if he and his sister wanted to go on a walk with us. The walk takes us on a four-mile course around our neighborhood and our sweet, little Alec informed us that parading together as a family in this manner would be of the same embarrassment level as wearing headgear to school (and I sincerely apologize if any of you or your children had to do this).
Other than that episode, however, this summer has been filled with more family fun than any family has the right to have. Take this weekend, for example.
We let Amanda decide what to do Saturday, because we can never agree on anything and, well, we were obviously delirious.
She chose a Sonic Drive-In in Algonquin, Ill., approximately 800 miles from our home, and we agreed with the stipulation that we would also go bike-riding on a trail near there (my idea) and hit golf balls somewhere afterward (Alec’s idea). My husband Rick did not get to choose. It just works better that way.
So, why, you ask, would a 14-year-old girl want to go to a drive-in? We’re still asking ourselves this question. Apparently, she had never seen a drive-in until eating at a Sonic while visiting her cousins in Arizona recently, and thought it was great. She also watches the Food Network a little too often.
Nevertheless, off we went, happy with our family fun time together until we were an hour into the trip, finally arrived in Algonquin and ran into its Founders Day celebration and Algonquin’s one traffic jam of the year.
It was about this time that it occurred to everyone in the car but Amanda that we had driven 800 miles to eat a hamburger in a suburb much like ours. Only in our suburb, we eat them at a table.
“You can’t be mad at me,” she informed us in a preemptive move from the backseat as the parade kicked into high gear about 72 cars in front of us.
“Sure we can,” Alec informed her matter-of-factly.
Finally, we arrived and it really was fun placing our order into the speaker, having our food roller-skated to our car and watching Rick spill each condiment in his lap.
As a side note, I should mention that my husband reacts to the smallest stain on his clothes the same way a normal person might react to having an entire chocolate milkshake dumped down his pants. Translated, he does not like it.
Not that this detracted from family fun time one bit. It was actually one of the highlights of the trip.
Watching Alec do the same thing and react the same way in the backseat was almost as fun.
While we digested, we drove around and angrily noted all the good stores and restaurants that Algonquin has which our suburb does not, not counting Sonic. After killing about seven minutes doing that, we drove to the bike trail and unloaded.
This was Alec’s favorite part of the day because in a discovery only a boy could enjoy, he noted that the outhouse had a bottomless toilet much like the movie, “Slumdog Millionaire.” My husband got a big kick out of this too. Amanda and I did not.
As far as I was concerned, the bike ride was great. I’m not sure if the rest of the family agreed and frankly, I don’t care. I have been dreaming of these family bike rides since before both children were born and I’d see families riding around with kids in little bike seats and those pull-able tent things and couldn’t wait to have kids so I could do that – so much so, Rick often reminds me, that when Amanda was still a baby (I remember her being about one, but Rick recalls her being closer to three weeks) I tried to tie her into a bike seat.
(For those of you considering having children, they have to be able to hold up their heads on their own to best appreciate a family bike ride.)
Anyway, I enjoyed the ride because both children could ride along supporting themselves under their own weight. Alec enjoyed the ride because we passed a small airport and he could watch the takeoffs and landings. Rick liked it because when the trail left us out into traffic, he noticed that we passed a restaurant where we once ate after one of those soccer games 800 miles away.
And we think Amanda liked it because she remembered insect repellent unlike the last family fun day when she swelled up and spent the next three days groggy from Benedryl.
We never did hit golf balls, but we’re trying to train Alec for when he gets married and has no choice in what to do.
Thankfully, we all share a similar, warped sense of humor that allowed us to laugh for most of the day. And when we got home, Rick and Alec went to hit golf balls together and Amanda and I went to see a movie they both would have hated.
Family fun day was officially over.
Can’t wait until next weekend.