Present tense: Picnic dinner


Last night we had a picnic dinner at the botanic garden. It’s something that’s on the weekly schedule but I almost cancelled for clouds that looked heavy with rain.

I’m glad that I didn’t.

Prep work was hard as usual. Imagine kids screaming in the background. The same song playing repeatedly in the kitchen.

The one-year old crayoning on my laptop screen. The five-year old intermittently screaming and eating everything in sight. The seven-year old singing along to that same damn song.

The drive is quiet but for Gabe’s questions and lectures. The kids can’t help hitting each other a few times. We stop to pick up Geoff from the train.

Finally, we reach the garden, cool and surprisingly sunlit. We eat pesto pasta, fruit, and brownies while jumping up from our blanket to chase Nate away from the water.




We’re all having fun. Looking at us, you’d have no idea the scenes we’ve endured to get here. You’d have no idea of the conversations Geoff and I had earlier this week. You’d only see the result: a happy family. So simple.


You wouldn’t know that Gabe would momentarily run down a grassy hill and fall on the gravel path below, scraping himself in five places and shattering his happiness. You wouldn’t get to see Nate’s joy at splashing in a fountain, and you wouldn’t have to chase him out of the fountain. You wouldn’t know that Anna and Gabe would have an extensive fight over my water bottle on the way home.


You’d miss Gabe’s never-ending soliloquy in the car. Once at home, you would miss our bedtime conversation:

Me: It’s quiet time now. I need you to stop talking.

Him: Why?

Me: Well, the first reason is that I’m tired of hearing your voice today.

Him: (Jokingly) What’s the second? The third?

You’d miss me hugging him, laughing.

This is going to be a fun few years. You really should hang around.