I’ve discovered the cure for the Afternoon Crazies.
You know the time of day I’m talking about. The Crazies come at that devil’s hour (or three) between the time your kid wakes up from a nap and dinnertime (that glorious point after which you can coast, since this is when the pre-bedtime activities crank into gear, and your late night rendezvous with the DVR comes closer and closer to delicious reality). Or, even worse, if your kid’s not napping anymore, the Crazies tackle you after lunch, when you’re faced with MULTIPLE HOURS OF UNSTRUCTURED TIME and, oh, lordy, how those minutes can plod along, almost as if the clock is mocking you.
So anyway, you get my point.
The good news is that I’ve discovered the perfect kid-friendly activity to inoculate yourself from any parenting-related psychotic episodes. And it’s amazingly simple: Weeding!
Yes, you read that correctly. K. and I have decided that weeding is our new favorite outdoor activity. This decision comes regrettably quite late in the season, but thanks to our delectably mild Washington D.C. autumns, we are guaranteed at least several more weeks to enjoy our new pastime together.
Here’s why I like it:
1. There is a clear beginning and an end to the project. (Incidentally, this is also why my husband says he likes mowing the lawn.)
2. I get so absorbed in it that the time just melts away. To wit: weeding one small section of our yard this week ate up two whole hours of an afternoon.
3. It’s the one thing I can do with K. in which he’ll let me work on my part of the project without feeling the need to demand my attention every five minutes. He’ll pull a stray weed once or twice, he’ll run across the yard to kick an errant soccer ball, then he’ll throw a clump of dirt across the yard. Repeat, repeat, repeat.
4. I get a strange, deep satisfaction out of pulling those things out with vigor, hearing the roots tear as I rip them out of the ground. (I call it my Whack-A-Mole Complex.)
5. When the job is done, I feel smug in the knowledge that I’ve freed a small plot of soil to become once again pristine, no longer molested by ugly crab grass, scratchy dandelions, or even innocent-looking clover, which I once thought was pretty but now I only see EVERYWHERE IN MY YARD, capable of surviving a nuclear holocaust, and thereby annoying as hell.
6. K. and I are truly having fun together, and having really enjoyable (and often amusing) conversations. Times like these are when I notice he really opens up.
Here’s why K. likes it:
1. I let him spray stuff with the hose. Ad nauseum.
So next time you’re at your wits’ end with a kid who’s so restless that not even back-to-back episodes of Handy Manny will satiate him, take him outside and get some end-of-summer weeding done. I guarantee you’ll quickly forget about your Afternoon Crazies. And who knows, you just might enjoy some quality time together, too.