(If you’re wondering: Silver Lining Playbook. And yes, I loved it and would love to talk with you about it for 2 hours if you have the time.)
What I didn’t expect was coming home to an actual celebration from my kids.
WE MADE YOU A CARNIVAL! A CARNIVAL, MOMMY! FOR YOU!
Sure enough, as I took off my snow boots and unwrapped myself from the layers of wool and down and cashmere, there taped to the floor on a long sheet of paper was a brightly colored CARNAIVL sign. Looking around, there had been makeshift booths set up and ready to go.
Just for me. A CARNAIVL for me.
I don’t know if they sensed that I needed a little carnival in my life or if they just needed some in theirs, but I jumped right in starting with Sage. She was seated at an upturned box with an array of colorful gemstones arranged on top, the kinds you find in bulk at museum stores and kids beg for, even when you try and tell them that they might appreciate a coloring book or a telescope or an antelope puzzle better.
“You have to guess what row, Mommy.”
“What row what?”
“What row I’m thinking of! See, there are three rows of rocks.”
“You want me to guess what row of rocks is in your mind? That’s the game?”
And so I guessed the second row. Incorrectly. I clearly suck at guessing what’s in her head, and I won no tickets. Fortunately, she told me I could have a second chance. “And also, you can guess the same row again if you want.” On a longshot, I guessed the second one again and this time I was right! I won 2 tickets!
I moved onto the Throw an Inflatable Ball Through the Hole In the Overturned Ottoman, another round of Guess the Row of Rocks, participated in some sort of dance-off with inexplicable rules (Sage won) and finally had my caricature drawn by Thalia. I kind of like the Joan Crawford eyebrows.
After earning a total of 12 tickets, I traded them in for a small green monkey with Velcro on the paws, and I hugged it like it was a pair of diamond earrings.
I didn’t take pictures because I was in the moment. I kept thinking about it, but I just wanted to be there. Enjoying their enjoyment. Reveling in the joy they had in bringing me joy.
As a gainfully employed and mostly fully-developed adult, I recognize that I generally go through my days as a series of responsibilities peppered with a few want-to-dos if I’m lucky. Sometimes even a movie by myself on a snowy Sunday. But there was something so magical and essential about this Sunday. It reminded me that in a 5 and 7 year-old’s eyes, every day can be a carnival.
Every day can be a source of winning and playing and happiness and prizes and making your mom dance with you.
I think more days can be like that for us mostly fully-developed adults, too. You just have to make it so.