keeping busy (with the help of Anne Carson)

I’ve been spending the last few weekends single-parenting while Neil hammers away (literally) up at the cabin, trying to get windows, doors and roof closed in before the snow flies. On the rainy days in particular, I’ve found myself barking out the same order over and over, the same refrain I’ve sung on weekends for a decade now: “Find an activity!”


Sometimes there’s even a threat attached: “You have three minutes to find an activity or it’s thirty minutes in your room!” (/outside/doing homework/folding laundry). I grew up hearing this from my mom–with three younger brothers I heard it all the time–and, as we all know, for better or for worse, the old phrases of one’s upbringing magically pop into one’s mouth when one is backed into a parenting corner.

At nine, Son #2 is pretty good at activity-finding. He’ll draw, he’ll shoot Hot Wheels down the hall, he’ll work his way through all the LEGO.


My almost-fourteen Son #1 has no problems, either–until I call a moratorium on wifi and cast him into the ninth circle of Weekend Hell.

It’s me who has problems finding an activity. Here I don’t mean “activity” as in “wiping the kitchen counter” or “digging out the winter hats and gloves.” I mean a weekend activity: something soft-focus and easily put down and picked up again, something to fill the time in an enjoyable manner when it’s too gross outside to take the dog for a walk. Other than baking the odd batch of muffins, I can’t think of anything to do.

ImageLuckily, my Holds just arrived from the library! I may not have hours to lose myself in Anne Carson’s amazing cerebral playgrounds, but I can page through them and finger the pages and be dumbstruck by their beauty…

[AC is reading tonight at the International Festival of Authors here in Toronto.  Catch if you can!]


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