My niece has been looking forward to this weekend for months. She made a countdown calendar for a craft project, counting down each day and excitedly sending me e-mails about what we'd do, where we'd go, what her uncle would put in his "famous pancakes" for her (butterscotch chips with whipped topping and syrup). So going into it, naturally, I was kind of freaked out.
This was a lot to live up to.
We decided together that we'd make candles and soap, and go to the Farmer's Market for fresh donuts and honeycrisp apples. And, of course, we would let her play with the Wii. Thank the gods for the Wii.
She woke at 6:00 on Saturday morning, and I found her at almost 7:00 laying in her bed in the guest room with the lights on, doing nothing. Her book was at her side (she always has a book with her) but she had tired of reading, and instead was just staring at the ceiling waiting for us to wake up. It bears noting that our weekdays start about 7:30, our weekends rarely before 9:00, so my husband and I were both extremely groggy.
We don't have cable — between Hulu.com and Netflix we fail to see the point — so there was nothing on TV for her. She quickly grew antsy and we decided to just get dressed and head for the Farmers Market at 8:00. She ate her donut, we picked out apples, we marvelled at the enormous produce, she cringed when I bought an eggplant the size of her head (I promised I wouldn't try to make her eat it). After running a couple errands, we ended up back at home around noon; I am NEVER this productive by noon on a Saturday, but I was already feeling exhausted.
We laid out our soap-making supplies and, as expected, she quickly grew bored of the process of waiting for the mixture to melt, waiting for the first layer of soap to cool, and waiting until we ended up with bars of beautiful lavender rosemary soap. The candles began another waiting game, and her boredom was palpable. So I set her up with Samba de Amigo on the Wii, complete with the maracas attachments, and she was in heaven. She'd come drag me from the crafts table to watch her do a song here and there, and she'd come by me when it got exciting — pouring the wax into the candle molds. But when it came time for a new batch, or to clean the container (using old candles means cleaning out the soot for each layer of wax), she played. Later in the evening we watched a few episodes of Ghost Hunters (her favorite — told you she was a cool kid), made some fish sticks (one of the few things she'll eat), and then she helped clean up.
This morning she woke again at 6:30 and wanted to play the Wii, which she did until it was time to leave, save for breaking for her pancake breakfast. When we got her home, she excitedly presented my great-grandma, grandma and grampa with the candles and soap we made, and talked incessantly about the Wii.
Overall this weekend went about as well as it could have. We had a great time hanging out, but I imagine it would have been infinitely more challenging had we not had the Wii around for her to become fixated upon. She's not a big TV kid in general, and I can appreciate how crafts like the ones we were doing could make a 9-year-old quite bored, even while they think it's fun. She's used to multitasking, and mellow crafting just wasn't her game. We balanced it well, I think, and she was super proud with what we ended up with. That said, I could tell she was ready to go home by mid-morning on Sunday, and we were more then ready to return her and get some nice alone time.
That was perhaps the biggest real issue we've had with sharing the weekend with our niece. Weekends are the only real time my husband and I have alone together, especially since our roomie is usually with her boyfriend over the weekends, and we've been, well, suffering a bit with the kid around. ;) I suppose couples with kids eventually learn to stop being paranoid about fooling around with a kid in the vicinity, but I couldn't put her out of my head for a second.
We'll gladly have her back another weekend, hopefully sooner rather than later, but it's nice when these weekends truly emphasize how much we love our life just the way it is.