Om mani padme hum

When your child has a week off between school and camp, and you are helpless to do much of anything but go along with his childish whims, you learn things. Happily, you learn that when you adopt a Zen-like attitude, abandoning all wants and desires and living purely in the moment, your child can be ... fun.

You will realize, quickly, that most of your annoyance (which is sometimes unfettered rage, because let's face it, you have issues) stems not from your son's actions per se but that his actions generally run exactly counter to whatever you need him to do. The timetable of the preschooler is not compatible in the slightest with the timetable of reality. For instance, you could say to the preschooler, after giving many friendly time-is-almost-up warnings, "Time to go!," and the preschooler will say, "Yes, but first I have to do X"—x being "construct a lego battleship" or "tell you a long, convoluted story involving a transformer" or "watch two hours of Jimmy Neutron." Once he's announced this, there is no moving him, although you still do, hoisting all 45 pounds of him into the car as he shouts I AM NOT DONE YET ARE YOU LISTENING. Sometimes this will happen as you are crossing a street and you will find yourself pulling at your child's wrist and hissing there is a car coming MOVE IT but he believes that time has simply frozen while he provides the backstory on his imagined rocketship adventures. And to do this he must stop walking. To concentrate on the hand gestures. While a painful death swiftly approaches. But I digress!

But when you have no agenda, nowhere to go, and nothing in particular to do, you can pass the day at the leisurely pace that the preschooler demands. And you see that his adventure-filled brain is not without its entertainment value. You can, say, spend an hour in the backyard engaging in a "tickle battle," and watch your son strike all manner of hilarious ninja poses before he strikes at your midsection with his Tickling Fists of Death. You don't have to hurry him through bathtime because he's not an hour late for bed, so he can spend a full hour lying on his back with his ears underwater, singing songs he is composing on the spot, your little half-submerged Marvin Hamlisch. You can play Magneto and MagLady, with MagDog and MagKitty standing by in case of extreme peril. He can list his many favorite colors (every one of them but yellow, in case you're interested) and you don't feel like you want to pierce your skull with a fork—because you're not late, no one is expecting you, and there's nothing you have to cross off your list.

Of course, you can do all this knowing that he'll be in camp by Monday. Thank God.