Canada Day far from the madding crowd…sort of

The first week of school holidays has been a bit of a slog. Older child had a bad head cold for a few days (and was just generally feeling run down and pooped) and younger child was doing the more classic “decompression” thing, which he is wont to do. For the better part of this week there has been a fair amount of bickering and a general lack of direction. I didn’t want to overschedule their week, but having less to do at times felt like a curse. Trying to catch up on work with them both at home wasn’t a great recipe either.

On a grey day earlier in the week I thought I’d take them both to see Toy Story 3, but then realized that they weren’t up to it (nor was I!). We ended up getting a selection of movies from the video store (a strange thing for me, as I only tend to get films from these days) and had a major chill-out session. Older son was allowed to watch one film on his ipod (a very rare occurence which he missed out on doing for the last day of school because his computer, along with his itunes settings, had crashed), and then joined us for another movie. We had comfort food meals and spent a lot of time lounging around.

While at home they have spent a lot of time making huge and elaborate army bases, islands and boat docks with batches of homemade playdough.  (I actually ran out for more cream of tartar this morning and was greeted with a chorus of “thanks Mum!” which made it all worthwhile after the bickering – have I mentioned the bickering?) With a five-year age gap it’s wonderful that they share the same passion for this activity, but there were times over the past few days when it just became something to butt heads over. Not today, however. It’s 11.30 and all is quiet two hours into another playdough session.

I think that may be because we finally hit our holiday pace as a family yesterday. We drove out to our new town to check on our new home (all of the interior rooms on the main floor have been framed, which was beyond exciting), check out the local festivities, indulge in a big, slow lunch at a diner, wander around one of my favourite local shops which is full of vintage clothing and other neat finds, do a bit more pruning of raspberries while older son retired with a book to a quiet corner and younger son played in the dirt, caught a late snack to keep us going and then headed to the local park for the fireworks display. All of which was pretty nearly perfect.

We don’t “do” fireworks in Ottawa (as a family, I mean – the city certainly does). Huge crowds and congested roads just aren’t our kind of fun and we’ve always steered well clear. But fireworks in a small town, where many folks can arrive on foot and the numbers just aren’t overwhelming, is so very nice. We had a “front row” position and older son was thrilled when a firework casing landed, smoking, on the ground about 15 feet away from us. It was scooped up immediately, a new prized find. We each were awestruck in our own way by the display – such simple, thrilling fun, and it was the first time we’d attended one as a family.

When it was all over we talked about what it would be like next year when we could just walk home to our house afterwards and took turns looking at the casing. Then we slipped into our car and drove back to Ottawa, just in time to hit the crowds departing Andrew Haydon Park on Carling Avenue. So, we didn’t miss the crowds completely, but it really didn’t matter.

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