So I went with plan B: When Athena woke up, I told her that she wasn’t going to go to school today. And then she and I spent nearly the entire day playing. We went shopping for a new computer game for her, and also bought a ball. Then we came home and played “tag ball” in which you play tag, but with a ball (it’s good for hand-eye coordination. Honest). We ate fast food. We had cookies. We watched (in no particular order) Spongebob Squarepants, the Powerpuff Girls, and Courage the Cowardly Dog.
We talked about stuff: She wanted to know why there were seasons, and I told her. She wanted to know what flowers were for, so I told her. She wanted to know why it was so cold on Pluto, and I told her. I also gave her a representation of the diameter of Jupiter, using her new ball and my own body (which was, conveniently, to scale if the ball represented earth). She played with chalk while I took pictures. And I told her a lot that I loved her.
And it worked, because today was in many respects a remarkably good day. I realize that many of you parents out there don’t have the option, as I have, of deciding that a particular day is going to be Screw It All And Play With Your Kid Day, but if you do have that option, you should take it (or simply call in sick). It’s not a cure-all for your various problems, but it’s nice to spend the day in someone else’s world, especially someone whose day revolves around finding new and exciting ways to plug into what the world has to offer.
At one point in the day, Athena told me that when she grew up, she was going to play all the time. I imagine today would have been very much like a day in that life. It’s a nice life to visit. I can’t stay in it — work calls, I’m too much of a grown-up to ignore it for long, and anyway I like to work — but a day in the life is enough if it’s done right. Athena and I did it right. I’m glad we did.