A few days ago, after spending the day to that point doing the usual stuff - playing and homeschooling and errand-running - I looked Matthew in the eye and said that I had no idea what to do with him next. I was fresh out of ideas.
His unblinking and immediate response: "tv?"
Me: "Fine." I hated agreeing to it, especially in this context, but I didn't have anything better to suggest.
Matthew (on his way to turn on the tv): "By the way, mom, you should really make a list of things we could do when you don't have any more ideas. Because you really need to spend time with me." Said as if I never spend time with him...I, who am with him virtually every day, all day. Well, who ever said parents were appreciated by their offspring, right?
Before Matthew was born, I used to wonder (in a state of something akin to panic) what people did with their kids all day...specifically, I wondered what on earth I would do with my kid all day. I had no idea. People that I mentioned this to generally reassured me, along the lines of "don't worry - you'll figure it out" or "they'll do whatever you do" or, my favourite, "it just comes naturally." Right - for whom?
Actually, for the first five years of his life, I discovered that advice to be, by and large, true. When Matthew was just over a year old, we moved here from Vancouver, and I had virtually no friends for the first year+. So I blathered on and on to my kid, talking non-stop, telling him everything and anything I could think of; I read him kids books, magazines (including Macleans, which I also read to my now-nine-year-old nephew when he was a baby - it's how he and I learned about Afghan mujahadeen rebels...which was helpful a few years later when I ran into Peter Mansbridge on an airplane and we talked about mujahadeen rebels...but I digress). Matthew was my companion, both of choice and necessity, and I held little back. I am convinced, incidentally, that this was a significant force in his being able to verbalize a minimum of 250 words by the time he was eighteen months old. Even his like-aged cousin occasionally holds her hands over her ears and despairs: "Matthew, please stop asking so many questions" or "Matthew, please stop talking." Of course, being a mature woman, I would never do that...hmmm.
At any rate, I'm fast running out of ideas as to what to do with Matthew during the day. The weather has been so bitterly cold recently that, even bundled up, he/we last only 10-15 minutes out there - at most. I suppose it will get a bit easier for the next couple of months, given the 'extra-curricular' activities that I've signed him up for. But after homeschooling is done, and we've done crafts, puzzles, reading out loud, listening to audio CDs, had a bath, played with some toy or another, rolled around playing some wrestling/tickling game or kicked a ball around the basement, maybe done some baking together, maybe even gone on a field trip, etc etc, what do we do then? I'm genuinely stumped. Really, if anyone has ideas as to what to do with a five-year-old only child who's home all day, please let me know. Do you hear the desperation in my voice?