How do you make that special day one to remember, without breaking the bank? So often, the kids don’t have a choice in a lot of daily decisions. Combine some temporary parent powers, and a treasure hunt, and the day becomes less about what they get, and more about what they do…
It all started on a Friday afternoon, with smoke-filled skies from nearby forest fires. I had wanted to take off extra early from work, to get last minute details in order. Alas, complications only allowed me to leave an hour & a half early. My ‘ex’ had informed me that she’d be in town and could drop them off @ 4:30 when I get off from work. Alas, this didn’t actually come to fruition for two more hours.
The good news is, I was ready, and took my daughter out to any restaurant she wanted. The cuisine of choice was the local burger joint. As is often the case in a small rural area, I had two brief conversations with other adults, one wondering about a meeting, and the other wanting computer repair *sigh*.
I told the latter that I wasn’t taking new clients, as I had been a bit overwhelmed lately. This happened to be the second time in a month where someone had died with computers in need of repair. Naturally, the survivors would like to get those pictures & things so, of course I broke down and accepted. Word to the wise, people: when you replace a dead computer, get the stuff off and get rid of it
Anyway, going directly to bed, the kids and I had a good snuggle/tickle session in the morning, followed by showers and a french toast breakfast. Powdered sugar, fresh OJ, sausage, I pulled out all the stops. I put on my ‘parent hat’ and made them do their homework before beginning the treasure hunt. (This also allowed me to bake the cake.)
Last time, my daughter said it was too easy, so I was determined not to let that happen again. Some riddles were quite difficult (thank you Google) but easy to find. The opposite was true, with easy clues, but a real hunt required to find the elusive clue. Hiding spots included:
- Places around the house: firewood, trampoline, shoe, window
- Places around town: Mad Mary’s, Joseph Hardware, Joseph Family Foods, Recycling Center, etc.
(Hey, a link is the least I could do…)
I made sure not to have any two close together, even venturing across town before returning to the business next door. (I got a special kick out of that.) Luckily, we were on bikes, and the weather was nice. Their imagination continues to amaze me, as they found all sorts of things to justify the answer to each riddle. While I thought of only two bridges a clue could lead to, indeed there were at least four!
While at Mad Mary’s, we were treated to an order of ANYthing we wanted. As a parent, this was quite scary, but they were thrilled and chose modestly with a milk shake and Sunday. Some neighborhood boys came over and helped with some household clues, but departed when we took to the bikes.
The great thing about being a ‘no’ parent, is that moment of excitement on the kid’s face when you say ‘Yes.’ Such was the reaction when my daughter stopped at the farmer’s market to pick out a bag of kettle corn she had asked for all summer long.
The last clue returned her home to “a place where kids sleep and stay.” After inverting their bedroom, couch, and such, (as planned) I suggested they think about other spots. The camper proved to be an excellent hiding spot, out of daily contact, and full of cupboards and crannies to look in.
The presents were few, but the gratitude genuine. We charged up my daughter’s new iPod shuffle, and loaded a few pre-teen hits on it before dinner. I had been given directions 2 weeks in advance to prepare shish-ka-bobs. We chopped up the vegetables and fired up the grill. The weather was so pleasant, we elected to eat on the deck. I had been marinating the chicken in an orange juice & herb mixture for over a day, and it certainly did not disappoint!
Apparently, my son had never had ka-bobs before (in his memory) and eagerly devoured vegetables he’d normally refuse. With satisfied bellies, the “Birthday Girl” picked out whatever movie she wanted. (Within rating limitations, of course.) After a Disney teen-age adventure-drama, I busted out the made-to-order cake: Carrot with cream-cheese frosting.
Getting ready for bed, we had just enough time to select our next Minecraft adventure map, before calling it a night. Another birthday in the bag. I spent half the week’s free time on a day of joy and, as usual, it was worth it!
Enjoy the gallery…