Benny and his friend Griffin at Ocean Beach in San Francisco.

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Weekend for Grownups

Benny's worst nightmare.

We had a busy weekend recently, and not for the usual reasons. Looking back, it's clear that the schedule revolved around Ron and myself rather than Benny. That's rather unusual, because for many families the weekend revolves around kids' activities -- sports, practices, lessons, playdates, family outings with kids' activities and treats.

The weekend of Aug. 5 was a little different -- Ron and I pretty much set the tone and Benny was swept along, patient but a little nonplussed.

Friday was our company picnic. Benny spent the morning at the office playing "AdventureQuest" on the intern's computer before we all headed to Golden Gate Park. Ron and I had a very good time, sipping beer and wine and chatting with coworkers. Benny spent the first 90 minutes devouring mass quantities of hot dogs, chips, ice cream and cookies. He spent the second 90 minutes waddling around and moaning because his stomach hurt from the hot dogs, chips, ice cream, etc. By the end the day, he was exhausted.

Saturday was spent dashing around doing chores. Then at 5 p.m., we packed Benny's pajamas and drove him across town to the babysitter's. This was under protest, since he really wanted to stay home and watch TV and defeat the Americans in his "Civilization" video game. But Ron and I had plans to see a French movie and eat food that Benny hated, so off he went. We picked him up late and carried him to bed, wearing moose PJs from Yellowstone and wrapped in a Playboy bunnies fleece blanket.

But the fun didn't stop there for Benny. Ron was performing in a church bell choir Sunday morning, so he left the apartment early. Benny was allowed 45 minutes of cartoons before I made him put on his best sweater and drove him to a brunch.

A friend's parents were holding this 50-person buffet brunch at a beautiful home in San Francisco. There were children there, but most of them were babies and all of them were female. The food was amazing, with specialty breads and crackers served with a choice of eggplant spread or mashed chicken liver. Then there were fritattas and salmon and all kinds of confusing, delicious foodie dishes, all of which Benny hated. He wouldn't eat a thing, not even a muffin.

He spent most of the brunch drinking orange juice out of a champagne flute and trying not to drop things and knock things over. Benny is not a clumsy kid, but there was a lot of glass in this house. The poor kid couldn't even drink the orange juice at first because his well-meaning hostess put blueberries in it. He didn't say anything to her, just looked Eeyore-like at it until I fished the berries out. He drank it then, but not with enthusiasm. Then all the poor kid could do was follow me around until I took pity on him and found the dessert trays in the corner. Then I plied him with brownies until his stomach hurt again.

On Monday, he was stuck in the apartment while I worked from home. He spent most of the day re-enacting the Tour de France with his stuffed animals. I did take time out to make his stuffed camel a yellow jersey. Apparently he doesn't need water bottles because he has a hump. It was actually quite dramatic with Benny's commentary: "Does Horsey have the firepower to win? There's Chipmunk coming off the back end! And here comes Cow with everybody on his back wheel! Who will win the stage? Who? Who? ..."

But the fun didn't stop there on Monday. At 4 p.m. I knocked off work and we went ... wait for it ... Back to School Shopping. Yup, we went to four stores and a Target before he was rewarded with dinner at McDonald's. I really should have taken one of those giant carts at Target -- instead Benny and I walked around loaded down with stuff and poor Benny tripped and fell and dropped packets of underwear all over the cat litter aisle.

Things got much better for Benny on Tuesday, when Daddy Camp began. (It was the last week before school started and we hadn't arranged childcare -- oops.) They rode bikes, they played games, they ate hot dogs and played "Plants vs. Zombies." They also went to the grocery store, got haircuts, did laundry and vacuumed out the car. But at least Benny didn't have to eat chicken liver on toast.

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