Our son Russell and his wife Cynthia have a new house in Madison that Bob and I haven't seen yet. Every weekend, either we were busy or they were. Finally, we found a Sunday that worked and made plans.
It wasn't long after scheduling our visit, I heard from our daughter, Rachel. Could I possibly babysit Eli and Arianna? The date she needed me was the same Sunday.
I debated about switching so I could babysit - I never have enough one-on-one-on-one time with the twins.
When everyone is together, I only catch them for a few minutes at a time - we grandparents have to take our turns sharing them with aunts, uncles, and cousins, too.
I told Russ of my predicament and he said it was okay to babysit. He and Cynthia never have a problem finding things to do with their free time. After all, their new house wasn't exactly finished yet. There was so much yet to do.
Since there didn't seem to be a problem with the change, I made changes to our calendar.
A couple days later, Rachel wrote me an email: "Hi Mom, Dave isn't going away on Sunday so he'll be home with the kids. Thanks for being flexible though if we needed you. Rachel"
This was good for Rachel. She wouldn't have the hassle of dropping the kids off with me before hurrying to her appointment in Appleton. I was disappointed, but such is life.
As soon as I found out about the change, I emailed Russell and Cynthia. My message was short and sweet: "Hi, Did you fill up your Sunday? We could come if you didn't. . . .Not baby-sitting. Love, Mom."
I waited for an answer.
Russell wrote back: "Sorry. We did. I bought tickets to American Players Theater for Cynthia's birthday (shhh... it's a secret).
Sunday was the only day APT had any tickets left for a play she wanted to see, so it worked out well. We're seeing a show called Too Many Husbands in the outdoor theater that afternoon. I'll probably put together a picnic for us too. And Saturday I'm going to put in a full day of work, so unfortunately that won't work either.
"Actually, could you do a favor for me? I don't want her to schedule something for Sunday because I want it to be a surprise. I'm going to reply to you and her in another email that it's ok if you come down Sunday afternoon. Can you reply back saying 'Okay' that you and Dad will be here for lunch. That way Cynthia won't make plans and I can surprise her with the show and picnic without her making other plans. Love, Russ"
Again, I was disappointed that Bob and I wouldn't be seeing the new house, but Russell's subterfuge to surprise his wife intrigued me.
His next email to me and Cynthia read: "Nope, we're free Sunday (except for endless unpacking, of course :) Do you want to come around 11:30 for lunch? I'll pick up some food and we can eat on the deck if the weather is nice. The place is still a bit of a mess, so you'll have to pardon our dust. We have a guy stopping by around 4 to measure the house for hardwood and show us floor samples, so you probably won't want to stick around for that. Love, Russ"
I was ready with my affirmative reply, but I never sent it. Russell got back to me with another email: "Hi again Mom, Don't worry about helping in my attempt to trick Cynthia into not scheduling something on Sunday. When she saw my email to you about coming, she told me she had already made plans to visit a friend in Milwaukee that day. Darn.... I was too late! So I had to sort of come clean with her that I had made plans for her birthday that day…. She still doesn't know where I'm taking her, so that will still be a surprise. I think this could have worked had I started the ruse a few weeks ago. Next year…..Russ."
I emailed Russ to say I was laughing at him and his plans.
"I figured this would give you a good laugh," wrote Russ. "Cynthia called me at lunch to tell me her friend ended up cancelling their activity in Milwaukee on Sunday because she had to work. So my plan would have worked! Cynthia stopped reading our email in case I spoiled the surprise and she called me instead to say she's free on Sunday. It's a good thing, too, because besides the picnic and play, I reserved us spots on a winery and vineyard tour at a place west of Spring Green."
No, we haven't seen their house yet, but I have high hopes for our next set of emails.
Susan Manzke, Sunnybook Farm, N8646 Miller Rd, Seymour, WI 54165; Sunnybook@aol.com; www.susanmanzke.net;