Reading on the Porch
My kids are at daycamp this week. They're having fun wall-climbing, swimming, trampolining, and who knows what else. By the time they come home, they're exhausted, which means all they really want to do is sit around and fight with each other, maybe complain to their parents for a little variety.
Last night I'd had enough of listening to them, so I went out to the porch with a cup of tea and book to escape the bickering and the heat of our unconditioned house. I had about 10 minutes of glorious quiet before the door opened and all three of them plopped down on the porch furniture, still whining and carrying on.
"That's it," I told them. "You're clearly too tired to be civil, so you're all going to bed."
"But Dad," they begged, "it's not our bedtime."
"Maybe not, but all you're doing is fighting anyway. You can do that in your beds where I don't have to hear it."
"We'll sit quietly and read books," my middle son said in desperation, apparently willing even to read if it meant avoiding an early bedtime."
The other two must have seen that he'd struck a point with me. "Yeah," they agreed. "We'll just read."
"Okay," I said. "As long as you're reading quietly, you don't have to go to bed. The moment the book goes down, you're off to sleep." It seemed a safe bet. I figured my eldest might actually make it to his normal bedtime, but I doubted the younger two would even make it five minutes.
They all trooped off, gathered their books, and came back to sit on the porch. And they read. Right to their bedtimes the read, all three of them, in peace and quiet, without a word of argument. It was delightful.
At one point I looked up from my novel and saw the four of us in my mind's eye – sitting together, reading in the evening breeze – and I thought, "Hey, this is probably one of those moments I'll end up remembering forever. I should just put my book down and really enjoy it while it lasts."
And I did.