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A Busy Weekend

May 25, 2022 07:44AM ● By Matthew Jones

There was lots of dadding going down in Fredericksburg this last weekend. I went all over the area, doing stuff with my son, my daughter, my niece, and my nephew. 


Saturday morning found me in a tent at a Rappahannock River Campground northwest of Fredericksburg. I was on a camping trip with my 13-year-old nephew and his Boy Scout troop. We had all spent the night at a campground half a mile from an equestrian complex where the boys would learn to ride horses and get their horsemanship badges. My kids are too young for scouts and I never really got into it, but my wife’s family has all been pretty invested in Boy and Girl Scouts for years. My nephew started scouts this year, and I’ve enjoyed getting involved. It’s nice to get a little taste of what fatherhood might be once the kids are significantly older. More self-sufficiency is really nice, but I’m not too thrilled about the bigger educational and social issues that teenage kids have to deal with.

Midmorning I headed back home (I was no longer needed at the campout). I rejoined my wife who had watched the kids by herself the previous night and that morning. Once I got home, we headed straight off to—the Virginia Renaissance Fair! It’s held every year at Lake Anna Winery, and we always try to go. Usually, we all dress up; my wife and kids did but it was just too hot out for me on Saturday. Weirdly, the line to get in was huge despite being so hot. But once we got inside, it wasn’t too crowded. Once inside, we made a beeline for the shady area in the woods. Like we always love to do, we walked around to the various artisans’ and artists’ stalls to check out all their art. We got to watch a show—this one pretty racy but luckily all the jokes went over the 2- and 5-year-old’s heads. As far as they knew it was just two nice ladies singing. We got some booze for us adults, and I shared an ENORMOUS turkey leg with my son. We left early just to get out of the heat, but we got to do everything we wanted!

When we got home, we were met by my sister-in-law dropping off our 6-year-old niece at our house for a sleepover. Like I said earlier, I got quality time with ALL the kids this weekend. We didn’t have any plans for the evening so we invited over a couple of friends for dinner. Right here, let me tell you about the joy of having kid-less friends who are cool with kids, especially your kids. They are a priceless resource. They are functioning adults who actually have some patience left and can swoop in and help out with your kids and give you a break. It’s also great to have other adults to talk to about non-kid topics, but who also are totally cool when your 2-year-old runs through the room screeching like a harpy and waving her pants around over her head. Once things settled down, I did the bedtime routine, but with the extra kid. Three kids in the bath, three kids getting stories, three kids getting in pajamas. Surprisingly, it didn’t go too bad.


Sunday, I got up early to go prepare for the kids’ music class that I teach downtown. I’m a teacher with Harmony Kids and teach their ages 0-5 “sing with me” classes for parents and children. It’s all about encouraging musical development in little kids through songs and activities with a focus on the family all making music together. If you're interested, you can drop in for a single class to try it out. It’s a lot of fun—I’ll write a full post about it one of these days. But getting there was tricky. That morning the marine corps historic half marathon had taken over the whole city! I wound up riding my bike downtown to get around the roadblocks.

After music class, we decided to pick up lunch on the go. We stopped by Ike and Rita’s downtown, which was my first time there. It was so good! They were waiting on a bread delivery so I got a turkey sandwich on an everything bagel. We got bacon and egg bagel sandwiches for the kids, which were amazing (I know because I stole a big chunk). The kids, of course, barely ate any of it. We also got a couple of their homemade pop tarts, which did not disappoint. Imagine a normal pop-tart, but instead of tasting like preservatives, it tasted like joy and angel dreams. Yeah. They also have tons of art around for display and sale. I loved looking at the stained glass in the front window and checking out the pottery studio in the back. We had to take our lunch to go because we were running late for our appointment to get …

Benny’s COVIDvaccine! Benny just turned 5 last week, so he’s now eligible to get his first shot. Fingers crossed we don’t have any more big spikes in cases, but signs point to COVID not going anywhere and hanging around like the flu. So we wanted to have Benny covered now that he’s eligible. He was majorly psyching himself out over getting the shot for hours beforehand. I think it helped when I talked to him about how yes it is scary, and even grownups don’t like getting shots. At the Walgreens, he did a good job being brave up to when the needle came out, but then the screaming and kicking started. I had to hold the poor guy down. But once it was over and he calmed down, he told me, “it didn’t even hurt!” So fingers crossed he’ll be able to remember this experience the next time he needs to get a shot.

From there we focused back on my nephew, who was back in town and having his 13th birthday party at Skyzone in Central Park. We brought our special high-traction jumping socks from home from the last time we went to Skyzone—and it was a small miracle we were able to find all four pairs. If you’ve never been to Skyzone, it is a giant indoor trampoline park and it is heaven for super-active children. There’s a big area just with rows of trampolines, another spot where you jump into a pit filled with foam cubes, and a ninja obstacle course (currently under construction). It. Is. Awesome. I jumped for maybe 20 minutes before my body informed me that I am, in fact, in my 30s and needed to stop. Luckily nobody in my family has ever been hurt there, but I do have a friend whose daughter broke her leg there, so definitely be aware of the risks and talk to your kids about how to be safe before setting them loose.

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