Whilst out on my last February morning walk with George, I was going through last week’s events in my mind, trying to pick my favourite moments and the one day worth the title of ‘highlight of the week’. This is usually a difficult process, since our philosophy as a family is to try to only do things that we like and value, and our weeks are therefore packed with favourite activities. This week, however, one day sprung to my mind instantly: Thursday. A could-have-been-ordinary day best described by three ordinary key words: blanket, dominoes, hopscotch.
That’s all it took to keep my entire family – and my daughter in particular – entertained for the whole of last Thursday: a makeshift tent, a pack of dominos and a paper hopscotch. As every parent knows too well, children’s school holidays can be a really tough time. This is a time when you have to up your skills and divide your time and attention between work, home and preventing your child from getting bored.
Well, my daughter was on holiday last week and we happened to be busier with work than normal. A very unfortunate coincidence, I must say. Although she’s a good and thoughtful kid who likes her own company and is able to entertain herself due to a vivid imagination and the bouncy presence of George, by Thursday she’d had enough and requested that everybody takes time off to play with her. We had taken turns in keeping her occupied up until that point, but now she wanted all of us to spend time together “like we normally do”.
The weather was not warm enough to go for one of our mammoth nature walks, so we were bound to stay indoors and find something to do. And then, Eureka! My husband had a brilliant idea: why not make a tent in Brianna’s room and go camping?
The little bedroom quickly became a frantic construction site, with the huge blanket I use to cover our over-sized family sofa being draped over the dining chairs and tied with Brianna’s hair baubles. Within 10 minutes, the set had changed completely and a dark-brown canopy tent was reigning proudly in the middle of the room. The curtains had been drawn to create atmosphere and a feeling of authenticity, and the tent had been packed with indispensable camping items that we always take with us on our adventures: an ancient, tiny radio bringing us the latest tunes, a pack of dominoes, bottles of water, all the snacks we could find in the house and, of course, George’s cuddly dinosaur and chewy bones.
All we did for our first two hours in the tent was chat, listen to music, have a laugh and play games. Once again, our treasured pack of dominoes proved to be very successful with the entire family. Even George showed an interest for the smooth pieces, but then decided the game itself was not challenging enough for a whippet, so he concentrated on his chewy stick instead.
The middle of our camping adventure was marked by lunch time, when we had to rely on our stocks of instant soup that we’re saving for when the real camping season starts. We ‘cooked’ them outside in the garden on our small camping stove, and ate them in the tent, sitting bunched up together on the floor ‘to keep warm’. Nothing beats a bowl of hot soup on a chilly day. Again, the dog refused to join in, claiming that ‘human food is no good’ and requesting his bowl of raw mince to be placed in the middle of the tent.
The tent did not survive long after that, mainly because Brianna didn’t want to play dominoes anymore, the adults had started to get backache, and George had abandoned ship altogether and was sulking on top of his sister’s pink duvet.
Whilst the tent was going down and the house was being restored to its original, Brianna came up with a new idea for the rest of the afternoon: a hopscotch. We do not own a manufactured hopscotch, so she had to rely on her resourcefulness and make her own out of paper and sticky tape. Here is the result:
Needless to say that this makeshift hopscotch kept both of us, girls (Dad said he’s past the hopping age and George was still in a mood) busy for the rest of the day. And the next day, for that matter. I have a feeling that we’re up for another play session this evening, too. I can’t wait!
I know that our Thursday may not seem like anything special to other people. I guess most have stopped reading this unusually long post by now. But I am hopeful that the few of you who have had the patience to read on will get the point that I was trying to make: there’s magic in the simple things, as very often it’s these simple things that count the most. Happiness is not measured by expensive trips and fancy items, but by the quality of the time you spend with your loved ones. Last Thursday we improvised and created a fantasy scenario which brought us closer together. We really enjoyed ourselves, and the smile in Brianna’s eyes was our biggest reward.