I’ll admit it. I was a bit nervous about having all the kids home for two weeks straight. I envisioned fighting and complaints of boredom, but it really wasn’t like that at all (ok, maybe a little, but way less than I thought). We had fun together, enjoyed taking it easy, and even slept in a few times (yes, my kids). It seems the break did good things for us, and now I’m sad to be sending Big back to school tomorrow. But the time has come. Sigh…
Here’s what I learned during our quality time together.
Lesson #1: If I had a nickel for every time I said, “Next year I’ll do x differently…” I could have paid for all my kids’ Christmas presents.
Lesson #2: While all the holiday prep can be a bit crazy, it finally all feels worth the effort on Christmas Eve when Lenny and I are finally done wrapping (which means it’s usually technically Christmas at this point), and we sit in front of our beautifully lit Christmas tree sipping on (spiked) eggnog and chatting.
Lesson #3: When you ask your kids if they’re ready to say a prayer at Christmas Eve dinner and they suggest that you start by singing Happy Birthday to Jesus, you can’t help but feel the Christmas spirit.
Lesson #4: When your preschooler comes home with reindeer food, and one of the ingredients is green sugar sprinkles, be sure he doesn’t dump it directly on the front doormat. That is unless you’re going for a green doormat that makes shoes sticky instead of clean.
Lesson #5: Stepping on the scale right after Christmas dinner is either a really bad idea or great motivation. Or, in my case, both. (I should note I did this only because we don’t even own a scale and I was bored while I was waiting for one of the kids to go to the bathroom.)
Lesson #6: When your first grader comes in outraged that his little brother used the “s-h” word, it’s best to get specifics so you don’t accidentally introduce a new word into their s-h repertoire. (And he thought “shut up” was offensive.)
Lesson #7: As the parent of boys and a girl, I can certainly say there are notable differences between the two. One of the most dramatic is the sounds coming from the backseat. With Little and Big it’s usually guys fighting, animals roaring, or restless kicking. Pink, on the other hand, sings quietly in her sweetest high-pitched voice and kisses anything she can get her hands on. (Note to self: Enjoy this now, but squash this habit before kissing in the backseat is not an ideal characteristic for a girl.)
Lesson #8: I’m definitely making great progress in my disciplinary skills, and am gaining real respect from my kids. Now when I talk patiently to the boys about why they can’t play a certain way (which usually involves inflicting bodily harm on one another), they look me in the eye, and say they understand. Then they close the door to oh-so thoughtfully spare me from seeing that they’re doing exactly what I just told them not to.
Lesson #9: If you don’t understand the housing prices in California, visit Half Moon Bay for a glorious New Year’s Day, then drive through the Berkeley hills to the Lawrence Hall of Science a couple days later. Wow. Just wow.
Lesson #10: While toys and clothes and food are all a part of making the holiday season exciting, the opportunity to laugh often with family and friends is what vacation is all about.
Sure, I learned a bunch more. But it was winter break. Sometimes it’s ok to be lazy, right? Happy New Year!