On Wednesday, when we were on our 12-mile bike ride on some local trails, a friend of mine convinced me to take a day trip to an island in the Great Lakes. The magic wand that was so prophetically waved at me on Monday in the park, must have been very powerful indeed.
We went. Three moms, seven kids, and packed lunches all shoved gracefully into two minivans. The day was beautiful. We had almost a straight flush of kids aged 1, 3, 4, 5, 6, 6, & 7.
We rode around the island. The 6 & 7 yr old boys led the pack. My barely six year old, Andrew, kept up in spite of his being both smaller and having a 16-inch bike (vs. his friend’s 20” bike with gears). He pedaled like a maniac. The magic wand must have given him special energy as well.
Did I mention the day was beautiful?
We stopped for lunch and the kids threw rocks into the lake. We stopped for ice cream and George was completely covered in vanilla. We stopped after 15 miles and the kids ran to play on the playground. (George and Gladys had been in the trailer, so of course they had a little energy left). Their mother who had been hauling them around was still going stronger than she should have . . . .
The older boys actually started fighting over playing with George on the playground. They all wanted to help the one-year-old. They were chasing him around to the stairs, helping him up, lifting him to the highest slide, then racing to the bottom of the slide to catch him. Over and over they did this. George was stumbling along, hardly able to stand up he was so tired. It was already after 4pm.
My two friends had been talking over by the vans, packing up, while I watch the kids at the playground. When they came over, I asked what seemed like an obvious question,
“So, did you call the hubbies? Are we grabbing a martini and watching the sun set?”
We all had the same thing on our minds. We decided to stay. By then, it was nearly 5pm but we decided to head down the beach anyway. One of my friends ran over and bought some refreshments for the adults. We didn’t bring extra clothes.
“Take off your shorts before jumping into the lake!”
They all did. The kids splashed and played. George played in the biggest sandbox he had probably ever seen. Have I not taken him to the beach before?? I was running through the water taking pictures when Andrew decided to get me quite wet with one of our empty cups.
All of the sudden, it was 7pm. Three moms and seven sand-caked kids took a shower in the camping area. My friend magically produced one towel per family. We raided the van and found mismatched clothes for all the kids. We went to dinner at a local joint on the island, serving “world-famous” beverages. We felt the experience would not be complete unless we tried them. After all, we must teach our children that it is fun to try new things. (My “breathable” athletic shorts were not breathing fast enough to dry my panties, so I ran out to the van during dinner and removed the wet, sandy, excessively uncomfortable garment - phew).
We left the restaurant in the dark. Our fearless leader had parked around the corner. When my other friend and I jumped in my van with the rest of the kids, we chose the wrong direction towards the ferry. We drove on and on. It isn’t a big island. I suggested that we pull out the kiddie menu from the restaurant that had a map – at which point my friend recognized that the water was, indeed, on the left instead of the right. We were going in the wrong direction.
We made it on the 9:30pm ferry. My kids were in bed just after midnight.
That, my friends, is how a play date should be.