I may have mentioned before that I often suffer guilt over being the “utilitarian” parent, and not doing many wheeeee-happy fun things with the kids…? Oh, did you miss that particular self-deprecating obsession somewhere, perhaps, in the midst of my fifty-seven other neuroses?
Well, I worry that I don’t spend enough quality time with my children. I had hoped that this summer was going to give us lots of great memories and opportunities for me to just relax and enjoy my little people. Mostly this summer has given me a big scar and a crash course in menopause, and that has cut into our beach bunny time. The clock is ticking and I’m still trying to make a few memories here before I either return to work full-time or have a nervous breakdown.
Today’s adventure: blueberry picking.
We met up with friends, set out to the farm, and the magic moments ensued. Each child had a little bucket. The blueberries were everywhere and the nice lady at the farm stand explained to the rapt children how to pick the very best ones. “See here,” she said, pulling down a cluster-laden branch, “you want the ones that are big and nicely dark, but also have a full coat of frost on them.” Frost? I’ve never picked blueberries before. I didn’t realize that the whitish coating was a ripeness marker. I also didn’t know that berries taste way better when fed to you by a child proclaiming them to be “nice and fwosty,” so there ya go.
They had a blast. Monkey picked very deliberately, bringing each one to me for approval. “Look at this beauty!” he would exclaim, over and over. It was kind of like picking berries with Rainman. Prior to this trip, Monkey–known far and wide for his legendary pickiness about food–swore up and down that he didn’t like blueberries. He’s always so polite about it, though, that it keeps you from strangling him. (“No thank you!” as he happily shoves the bowl of fruit away.) Today, when he brought a huge berry to me for approval, I gasped.
“That one is far too beautiful to go in the bucket with the rest of them, buddy.”
“Really. It would be too sad. You’d better eat it. I bet it’s delicious.” I tried to keep my expression neutral. He looked at me, then the berry, then back at me, then popped the berry in his mouth.
“Mama!” he said after he bit into it, “you were right! It is alicious!” I couldn’t resist planting a kiss on top of his head. But he’d already moved on to another bush.
“Look at this beauty! Nice and fwosty!”
Chickadee is a bird of a different sort, of course. When we got our buckets at the stand, I offered to weigh her before and after picking to make sure we paid accurately. The lady behind the counter had just laughed and said they’d yet to meet the kid who could eat the bushes clean, and it wasn’t a problem.
“Mama, why don’t you have a bucket?” she’d asked as we made our way to the berries.
“You’re gonna share yours with me, honey. Is that okay?”
“Okay, Mama. I’ll be your bucket!” Well, my bucket was very busy. My bucket only came over to where I was picking after I’d called her a few times, and my bucket-bearer always had a full mouth. I would drop handfuls of berries into the bucket and Chickadee would admire them and pick out a couple to eat, then go back to dropping one berry in the bucket for every ten she put in her mouth. All six-year-olds should have their mouths full as much as possible if you’re trying to have a pleasant day, I’ve decided. Mouthiness was at an all-time low. It’s very hard to sass and eat at the same time.
The kids picked and ate for a while, then played hide-n-seek with each other through the rows of berry bushes, then picked and ate some more. About six pounds of berries and umpteen “ready or not here I come”s later, we headed back to our friends’ house for playtime and dinner.
Oh, we got fresh corn at the farm stand, too. I was flabbergasted when Chickadee didn’t want a second ear of it at dinner, but she was probably still full of blueberries. I’d be hard-pressed to tell you which was better, the plump berries or the sugar-sweet corn. It was a very yummy day.
I’m exhausted. Having fun is more tiring than I remember.
If I want to double the points I earned today, all I have to do is make blueberry pancakes for breakfast. Hmmmmm….