My five kids and I were lazing in the living room. You’d think there’d be a lot of noise but it’s completely quiet. I’m typing on my keyboard, my two oldest are texting their friends, my 12 year old is watching basketball videos on her school issued IPad, and the two little ones are eating up all the memory in my phone by editing a video they made of themselves running from a dinosaur.
We’re all on the same couch but world’s apart.
Insert crazy parent here. I slam down the screen on my computer and announce, “That’s it. No more technology. Today is officially No Technology Tuesday.”
“Uhm Dad, it’s Wednesday,” answered the 12 year old smartly.
“OK,” I responded nonplussed by her mere factual hiccup. “It’s no-technology Tuesday but on Wednesday.”
I tell all the kids to shut down their computers, devices, and phones. Insert groans here. It sounded like a zombie invasion.
“We’re going outside!” I announced. “Let’s go.”
I walked to the door and they all rose slowly with a great amount of grunting as if gravity was a more oppressive force in their part of the room.
I’m leading the charge out of the room when I realize we have a straggler. The 16 year old isn’t moving. She’s got her earbuds in. I throw a pillow at her and she pulls out one earbud. (Just one.) She didn’t roll her eyes but I’m pretty sure it’s only because that would take too much effort. “Ahem, I’ve officially declared this no-technology Tuesday.”
“Uhm, you do know that it’s…”
“I know it’s Wednesday but no-technology Wednesday doesn’t have alliteration and quite frankly doesn’t sound as good so we’re celebrating it today. We’re going outside.”
Uuuuuuuuuuugggghghgghghghghghgghhghgghhgghghghhaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa(snort)uuuuggggggghhhhhhhhhhhaaaaa. (She inserts both a snort and an eye roll which is the most exercise she’s had all day.)
Amazingly, my kids didn’t burn up like vampires in direct sunlight. So they all line up outside and my five kids looked at me as if I was supposed to have a plan. I did have a plan and that was to announce no-technology Tuesday but beyond that I was kind of at a loss.
The 12 year old offered that we should all play basketball. To be fair, that’s her solution to all of the world’s problems. But when the Archbolds play together, it always ends up with hard fouls and someone yelling something like, “I’m never playing with you again!!!!!”
So no basketball.
I suggest we fly a kite. Good idea, right? Haven’t done that in years. Sounds great. The two little ones got very excited anyway. Go Dad! The other three…not so much. I’ll admit it wasn’t a windy day but how hard could it be?
Well, let’s just say that if the Wright brothers had this many problems taking flight, Amtrak wouldn’t be in debt. We took the kite over to a field near our home, unraveled it, and then I ran around like a crazy person dragging this kite around like a lazy dog.
Breathless, I surrendered. I had such images of being a great Dad so I mustered a little more energy and ran with it. And suddenly I felt a glorious breeze in my face. Oh boy, it was actually going to happen. The fluttering paper product was gloriously suspended in mid-air above us in all of its $1.99 glory…for about two seconds before it inexplicably veered wildly right and into a tree. Where it was stuck.
There went my dreams of winning the Best Dad ever award. My no technology Tuesday was beginning to feel like Father failure Wednesday. (Alliteration again. I know you knew. I just wanted to point it out to those who were skimming.)
There I stood, pondering if there was anything on the kite that the township could trace back to me after I abandoned it. I asked the sixteen year old if it’s technically littering if it’s not on the ground? She looked at me and I was pretty sure she’d testify against me if it came down to it.
But then the boy bravely stepped up and asked if he could climb the tree to get the kite. Yes! Great idea. I’d send my ten year old son high up into a weak-looking and probably hollow tree to save a $1.99 kite. It doesn’t sound so smart when I say it now but oh how proud I was as he strutted over to save the day.
But then unfortunately for him he couldn’t reach the bottom branch. So the thirteen year old gave him a boost. Family working together! He started climbing. Well, it took a while. I think my son personally disproved the theory that men descend from apes. He wasn’t anywhere close to the kite. The impatient 16 year old decided she would climb the tree. She’s tall and she grabbed the branch and swung her legs up and did a pretty amazing job of it. Now, of course, the 12 year old couldn’t be outdone so she leapt up to grab the branch and shimmied herself up. Then the seven year old girl pleaded with me for a boost so she could join her siblings in the tree because hey, it looked like fun. So I lifted her up to the branch and she started climbing.
Now, there was something funny about all of it until the moment when you realize that all of your kids are at least twelve feet off the ground except the 13 year old who gets nervous on escalators. Then you start getting a little nervous. So now I’m situating myself under the younger ones in case they fall.
The seven year old asked me to take a picture of them up there and I tell my landlocked daughter to stand in front of the tree.
I go to snap the picture and my phone says I can’t because my memory is full. (Probably because the epic-length dinosaur video!!!) So I just stood there looking at them for a moment. And it was gorgeous. It was one of those moments you feel that everything’s ok because it led up to this moment and this moment is perfect. I was filled with gratitude for their presence in my life, the stupid broken kite (yes, I’m blaming the kite), and this poor tree that was minding its own business before we got here. In the picture in my mind they’re all smiling.
None of them got near the kite. It’s still there. I see it when I drive by. (In case any township official reads this, I’m totally making this story up.) ((I’m not.)) My children all got down from the tree eventually. The boy kind of fell out of it and couldn’t breathe right for a minute or two but when he finally could talk he said it was awesome. Even the 16 year old had fun. We laughed as each of them recounted their own climbing stories.
We walked home and homework needed to be completed, tests prepared for, laundry done, dinner cooked, and daily life resumed.
That night, my seven year old kissed me goodnight and asked me, “Hey Dad can we do no-technology Tuesday on Thursday?”
I may have to buy a new kite and delete some videos on my phone but sure.
I went to bed that night and told my wife all about it. She smiled and we talked about what amazing people our children are becoming.
As I went to sleep I thought of them in the tree laughing and joking.
My memory is full.