Le'ts go bowling, dude.
The twins had no school today, so I took the day off from work to spend some quality time with them. My patience has been running pretty thin with a lot of the (constant!) bickering and whining they do, so I promised myself this morning that I would make an extra effort to remain calm, and remember that they're only eight years old.
After breakfast we puttered around for a bit, the girls playing The Sims on their computers, with me watching. I asked what they wanted to do with their day. Tayler immediately exclaimed "Skating!" I stalled, not looking forward to the stress of that activity. What else? "Let's go bowling, dude," Tayler drawled. It was a Lebowski moment -- how could I pass that up?
So at 9:45 AM we were at the Bowling Palace, Columbus' only 24-hour bowling alley. I spent many a long night at the Palace through college; though never had I bowled between breakfast and lunch. Only a few other folks were out that early rolling, so it was quiet, and pretty mellow. The girls insisted on bowling without rails at first, but changed their minds by the third frame. I tried to teach them how to bowl properly, and to their credit they listened and tried a few times before going back to what felt comfortable for them. Tyler whips the ball around from her side, and Tayler has this weird underhand shot-put style. Both girls each got at least one strike, and a spare each, so they had a good time. There was thankfully no real competitiveness, as there too often is at these things, so we all had a pleasant time.
After two games of bowling we wandered over to the huge thrift store. I often look for low-cost video cameras at thrift stores, thinking that I might find something suitable to play around with with the twins. (We have a Sony Digital8 camcorder, but it's still new enough that I don't feel completely comfortable with it in the twins' hands.) Two cameras were indeed available, but both were in pretty poor condition.
Next stop was the pet store, where I purchased a heater for Dinky (it turns out I bought the wrong kind...). The girls convinced me to buy two feeder fish as a treat for the turtle, so we raced home to watch the spectacle. Tayler commented on the way home that "watching Dinky eat a fish is a good learning experience for us." How true! Dinky gobbled up the first fish quickly, and it was quite a sight: he caught the very edge of the fish's tail. The little thing squirmed and wiggled, but to no avail. Dinky's long neck quickly shot forward, and most of the fish was in Dinky's beak. Tyler shrieked with a combination of disgust and delight, and Tayler smiled broadly. We all felt a little sad that the fish died, but I explained that someone else would have bought that fish to feed to some other pet, and the kids reconcilced themselves to this.
We had a pleasant lunch at BW-3. Tayler amazed me by putting down ten wings all by herself. Tyler helped me play trivia, and did surprisingly well guessing the answers. The game was well under way when I first joined, so we did pretty poorly on the first one. But Tyler and I, working together, were able to win the second round by a pretty sizable margin. Tayler enjoyed just watching.
We did a spot of window shopping after lunch. When a clerk asked if we needed any help, I replied with my standard "No thanks, we're just kicking tires." Tyler had never heard this idiom before, and she had a thousand questions to ask about it. While explaining that it was a figure of speech, I realized just how many such figures of speech we use around the kids all day long, without ever really explaining them. It's clear that sometimes the kids don't know what we mean, but a lot of the time they are able to intuit the meaning, which is pretty darned remarkable.
When we returned to the house, the kids let me enjoy a nice long nap while they played at a friend's house. After waking I had the unpleasant task of cleaning Dinky's water, which was getting pretty gross.
Today was a wonderful day. The kids were incredibly pleasant toward one another, and we didn't have any fights or blow-ups -- a rarity for us! It was just the kind of day off from work that I needed, and I really enjoyed the quality time with the kids. I need to remember to do this more often.