The last weekend of the summer holidays is never an easy one when you have kids. Then again, neither is the first weekend of summer holidays nor any of the days in between.
By the time September rolls around, not only are the kids bored from having watched TV all summer, but relatives and neighbours are no longer willing to babysit your children for free.
What, then, are your options?
You decide to do something as a family. Yes, somewhere in between sharpening and labeling pencil number 47 and pencil number 48 on their endless school supply list, you come to believe that heading out to the Calgary Highland Games is a great idea.
And it was, at least for those who didn’t have children or—more specifically—my children.
After I promised Vivian and William that this would be as exciting as watching another kid puke on a ride at an amusement park, we were on our way to the Highland games to watch big hairy men heave big heavy things.
There were worse ways to spend a Saturday afternoon, right?
“Do you think that’s an oxymoron?” I asked.
My husband shrugged.
Time would tell.
On the way to see the hammer throw, William spotted the Lego display. I listened as some of the creators described working on the castle-battle scene until 3 a.m. I envisioned William doing this when he was thirty-five, in our basement.
My husband attempted to explain both the hammer throw and the caber toss. It made slightly more sense than the time he attempted to outline the rules of cricket, an explanation that lasted a century.
“Can we go home yet?” William asked.
I ignored him as my husband rattled off the physics of the caber toss. I interrupted. “Mommy won the caber toss when we lived in Bahrain,” I said. Only athletes and annoying parents refer to themselves in the third person. I was in the latter category.
My husband raised his eyebrows at me with a look that said, “You’re not going to tell that story again, are you?” When you’ve been married for twelve years, there’s little reason to talk.
Whenever I did launch into the fact that I won the women’s caber toss, my husband would counter with his story of having played for the Bahraini national hockey team (once) in an international tournament. If you had a Canadian passport and brought skates with you to the desert, you were drafted.
But today was for Scottish things, including the bag pipes which droned on. And on. And on.
“Why are the men in skirts?” Vivian asked.
“They’re called kilts,” I said.
“I don’t like them,” she said.
“Do you know what?” I asked. I was determined to make her like Scottish culture. “The men don’t wear anything under their kilts.”
Vivian looked at me. “Not even underwear?”
I smiled. “Nope.”
“Mom! That’s so gross. Can we go home now?”
I grabbed some of the popcorn my husband had bought while Vivian and I were discussing Scottish attire, or lack-there-of.
Popcorn proved to be the perfect appetizer for a late lunch.
I looked at my husband. “You know what time it is?” I asked. “Family-friendly-beer-tent time.”
“Then can we go home?” William asked.
We walked in to the summery outdoor skating rink.
Vivian read the menu. “I hate sausages,” she said.. “Do they have peanut butter sandwiches?”
“No. Look, you’re getting a sausage and fries. Or haggis.”
“What’s haggis?” Vivian asked.
“Sheep guts,” her dad said.
“Can we please go home now?”
“Not until Mommy has a beer,” I said.
“It’s only 2 p.m.,” my husband said.
“But it’s after dinner in Scotland,” I said. “And their kids are in bed. And Scotland’s home to Sean Connery and Gerard Butler.”
My husband shook his head. “Don’t forget Ewan MacGregor,” he said.
As I left to head toward the beer line and to ponder kilts, I heard one of the kids say, “I don’t want to go to Scotland. Ever.”
Sigh. Mission unsuccessful.
Have you been to any festivals this summer?