Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Fancy is Always Better

Saturdays are difficult. With Luis at school all day and Julian in his own teenage world, I often feel like a single mother of one trying to juggle house chores, errands, social commitments, and keeping my 7-year old entertained. This Saturday was no exception. After two weeks of remodeling and despite my best efforts, my house was a grimy mess. The thin film of dust over everything was driving me crazy. We had an invitation for an outdoor birthday party in 53 degree weather. I had several errands that needed attention. AND we had my mother-in-laws birthday to contend with. It’s a good thing I’ve decided to live in the moment and not over plan!

I realized rather quickly that I was going to need to prioritize and possibly take some things off calendar if I was going to survive. The weather pretty much resolved the birthday party for me (send an apology and a gift), the errands were wheedled down to grocery store and tailor (both in the same shopping center and around the corner of my house), we extended a dinner invitation to my mother-in-law to celebrate her birthday (I had planned on cooking anyway so one more for dinner wasn’t an issue), and I decided to concentrate on the downstairs cleaning and leave the upstairs for another day. Crisis averted. Or so I thought.
There was one little 7-year-old snag in my plan. The meltdown started early when I informed my usually cheerful daughter that she had to get dressed so we could go to the grocery store. I set out some jeans and a shirt for her while I threw on some sweats. “Why can’t I have soft pants too!” I guess I forgot to mention that my dirty laundry had reached new heights by Saturday…all her “soft pants” were dirty.

Meltdown #2 came just after we arrived home from our errands. “Can I watch TV?”

Now, I have to explain the TV situation in my home. As much as we hate TV (we only have one TV in our entire household), Isabella watches way too much of it. I know…it’s our fault…and we realized that the only way to enforce No TV was to have No TV…so we just recently canceled our cable, and seeing as we don’t have an antenna, we have NO TV!! We still do have movies and instant streaming on Netflix, but we have found that it is much easier to monitor these than unlimited Nickelodeon and Disney, all day every day.
Back to Saturday…I informed my sweet girl that no, she couldn’t watch TV; that she needed to find another way to occupy her time.

“Can I play on the computer?”

Meltdown #3.

I suggested she could play with her dolls, or color, or make a craft, or play dress up, or write in her journal, or practice on her sewing machine, or listen to music, or read a book. She decided sulking would be much more fun. After watching her sulk for about 10 minutes, I started to feel guilty. I really hate to see her bored and unhappy, but I knew that I couldn’t give in to the draw of technology and unfortunately it wasn’t a day I could drop everything and play. Then an idea popped into my head. Fancy dinner!

Here again I must pause to explain the fancy dinner phenomenon. Every once in a while on the weekend when I cook a big meal, Isabella spruces things up by making menus, table centerpieces, napkin holders, placemats, etc. She sets the table with all her homemade touches, I try to make sure all the dishes match, we use our nice serving platters, and we have a “fancy” dinner. We sometimes light candles and we almost always have a little Pink Martini playing in the background. It makes an ordinary event extraordinary and everyone enjoys it…even the boys :)

So on this frenzied Saturday of long To-Do list for me and a boring afternoon for her, I suggested Isabella prepare a fancy dinner for her grandma’s birthday. She shot right off the couch, a smile a mile wide on her face, and went to work. She typed up a menu that I had written on a sheet of scratch paper, which took her a considerable amount of time seeing as she is a two-finger typer. She used construction paper as a base a glued on the typed-up menus.

Then she made napkin holders and place cards (also out of construction paper), and when it was time she set this beautiful table.

This was all her. I only set the stack of dishes and flatware on the table and she took care of the rest.

All in all it was a great day. We had a few hiccups along the way, but we got through them. When grandma arrived she was amazed and delighted! We had a fabulous dinner made even more special by Isabella’s creative and detailed handiwork…and, of course, Pink Martini playing in the background!

1 comment :

  1. Adorable! I love it. We got rid of our TV once Estela was about 6 months old. We have it in our bedroom, but with no cable, we also don't get anything. We also have no DVD player at the moment and have committed to no TV whatsoever for the girls. I don't think we all need to be that extreme, all I know is that no TV at all whatsoever for Estela makes us all so much happier -- she's forgotten about it so she never nags us about it anymore.

    A pre-school teacher once told me that one of the best things that can happen to a child is to be "bored." She said that 9 times out of 10 when a child says they are bored and a teacher or parent suggests activities, they will reject them all and get fussier, but if the parent just lays off and lets them work through it, some of the best creativity emerges. I thought that was interesting and it's been really liberating for me to know that it's not my responsibility to "entertain" my kids. If they get a few 20 minute chunks of quality one-on-one time with me, that usually goes a long way. I'm rambling....sorry!