well, we once in a while try to give ruth a big kid day. a day without her brother, just with greg and I to do things that we probably couldn’t do with joel with us and to just spend some quality time with ruth alone. it’s usually ok once things get rolling but I have noticed that it seems to take ruth a few minutes to adjust to the fact that joel isn’t around to take some of the heat off of her. she seems to go through a short phase on these trips of faltering due to a lack of brotherly support that she has come to rely upon to help her to break the ice a bit when entering new situations.
this past weekend, we took her to the cobblestone farm out in ann arbor to something they were putting together called “country Christmas” where they were supposed to have a bunch of local vendors there whose crafts and wares you could buy for Christmas presents, I assume, then they were supposed to have live music from the 1850s and some kids crafts. well, when we got there, we wondered if we had the right day because the place was a bit deserted. there were two tables set up with people selling stuff, one farmer with a table of veggies and a very disorganized craft table. no music. we wandered awkwardly for a bit looking at some homemade jewelry that a woman had on display. then, we came to the second table which was much more our speed, filled with homemade sweet rolls, breads, and jars of preserves and pickles. talked to the lady, she and her daughter had begun their own business three years prior and baked all the goods, and canned everything themselves. it made me think about the possibilities for homeschooling. greg wisely purchased a loaf of cranberry millet bread and a jar of bread and butter pickles that turned out to be so good that we ate it all standing right outside the door after ruth wanted to go and look at the few farm animals they have there on the grounds. I’m not ashamed to say that I drank the pickle juice like a goblet of wine from the jar, it was so damn good.
we also had a chance to talk with the farmer, who told us that he and his wife were renting a 30 acre farm right outside of the city, making mine and greg’s mouths water at the prospect of a different kind of life, one intimately tied to land and physical work. he seemed slow-talking and rugged and very fit, everything a young idyllic farmer would look like. he sold greg two bulbs of celeriac, which greg, at the time, was very excited about, but which are now sitting in the bottom of our fridge like some great big dirty tumors. I don’t know what the hell to do with them.
the kids craft table fell flat, another time when having the brother would have made jumping in a little easier on ruth, and we headed for the next phase of our adventure. we didn’t know where the hell we were going, but we ended up at the botanical gardens where we had our wedding reception six years ago. and it was just the thing for a cold December day. inside, it was at least 78 and humid, a blast of summertime. and admission is free. you can’t beat that. we took out a kids adventure backpack filled with scavenger hunt supplies for kids, colored pencils and paper for sketching and magnifying glasses to look closely at botanical features and set off. there were a bunch of banners up with relevant nature writing, which greg and I found inspirational for our own garden in the coming season. they also had fairy houses all over the place, which ruth relished seeking out and crouching down to inspect.
we all had a great time and especially ruth who had time to just be herself without her brother around and always having to share her space with him and be interrupted by him. for greg and I too it was nice to just see ruth and ruth alone and really realize how she’s growing and who she’s becoming. plus, it’s always a break for us when we only have one kid to look after and care for instead of two for a little while. it was sort of like a mini vacation or even a date for greg and I. we were able to talk a lot more than we usually are with the two of them always causing a ruckus. if you can swing it, I recommend a big kid day for your oldest kid. it really is a nice thing for everyone. but, we’re lucky in that we have extremely reliable and trustworthy caregivers: greg’s parents.