Wednesday, January 25, 2012

No Sunday rest for parents of toddlers

Oh God. It's Sunday. Again.

They call it the day of rest. Except there is no rest. No peace, no quiet, no respite. Not when your small child has the attention span of a squirrel.

It's: Num num I like this fruit leather- STAIRS! Chucking bits of Lego down them! Hey let's go in the basement! Let's touch this AMAZING LIGHT SWITCH! What do you mean, NO? Waaaaaa .... but wait, look, it's a DOG! With EARS! Let's pull them and- BOOK! Light switch again! ON! OFF! ON! Milk! Can we go in the pantry? Can I touch the coffee grounds? Oh WOW OINTMENT! Let's bite the tube! And throw it into that big white bowl of water! Splashing, ha ha, WATCH ME FLUSH! Open the closet door, close it! Open it! And-iPhone-dishwasher-buttons-hate-when-you-wipe-my-nose-I-want-up- SPICES!

Three minutes gone, just like that.

W.C. Fields said, "I once spent a year in Philadelphia, I think it was on a Sun-day." Well, Claude, every week I spend a year in parenthood, and it's always on a Sunday.

Saturdays are doable, manageable, even entertaining. This fine northern city bursts with scheduled activities for little ones: music classes, sing-and-sign-frolics, swimming lessons. Kiddie-friendly eateries itch for your business, and let's not forget the sensory overload of farmers markets.

But things grind to a halt on Sundays. Library events dwindle, most notably in the city centre. Coveted swim lesson spots get snapped up by parents who are more organized or more desperate (or both). Farmers markets vamoose. Cafe Tiramisu is shut. You surf the Internet for mom-and-baby yoga classes, for story-times, even the ones in Urdu, for some-thing ANYTHING to take up the day.

Sure, there are winter festivals. But what if it's -30 C? No playground, no tobogganing. Ikea? Again? You end up knocking around the house, frantically arranging last-minute playdates, trying to keep your offspring safe from harm and, ideally, not whining. You are reduced to jester status: Look, it's Win-nie the Pooh! Look, it's a man walking by the front window! Look, it's a bottle of vitamins with a child-resistant lid that we can rattle!

The tumbleweed blows and bumps its way down Main Street. (Look, it's a tumbleweed!)

On the so-called day of rest in this predominantly Christian society, older humans can find ways to occupy them-selves. One-year-olds do not excel at self-amusement. They can't bury their noses in novels. They're happy with the car keys but they can't be sent off to Superstore to stock up for the week. And, oddly enough, they're just not that committed to organizing the basement. (Disorganizing it, definitely.)

You gripe, then berate yourself for griping. Because really, you have everything. Health and home and family. A beautiful, healthy, curious, active child.

Tick, tick, tick goes the clock. 7: 20 a.m.

"I know what will solve the problem," people tell you. "A sibling."

Working parents get spoiled with the day-care arrangement. Which ought to be so, given the hefty price tag. Being at work is luxury - a place where tears, moans of boredom and demands to be carried around are (somewhat) rarer, where there's a much lower risk of injuries on the slide (unless you work at Google), where no one (of late) is painting the floor with a milk bottle.

Day-care kids get spoiled, too. They love daycare. Daycare is to toddlers what bright and shiny objects are to magpies. Their joy on arrival is borderline insulting. How can a parent offer such entertainment on weekends?

Perhaps my toddler is more work than yours. Perhaps you know about a bunch of incredible things do with a one-year-old on Sunday in Edmonton.

Hang on. Sunday. I've got a plan for this weekend. A place we're always welcome, where we can climb and drool and squeal to our hearts' content. Good morning, my little love! Guess what? We're going to church!


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