A late summer weekend in Charlotte’s northern neighbor is pretty much like any other weekend around suburban Charlotte.
There’s at least one cookout, multiple trips to the pool, a date night that ends before pre-child date nights used to begin, a spousal argument, big box shopping, one lost child, and subpar takeout pizza.
Except, we have a lake.
A giant lake.
More than 500 miles of coastline.
It’s so big that it’s nicknamed the Inland Sea. Wakeboarding. Boating. Kayaking. Paddle boarding. Fishing.
Here’s a look at an average weekend for a family of four in Cornelius. According to our town’s website, Cornelius was founded in… honestly, who cares.
All family members are home and accounted for despite the fact that neither our highway nor any of our surface roads are wide enough to handle the unchecked development that’s occurred here for the last 20 years.
Kid #1 is grumpy because he’s tired from running the equivalent of 15 miles in 90-degree heat at summer camp.
Kid #2 just got home from daycare and is grumpy because she can’t find anyone in the neighborhood to play with.
I’m grumpy because no one wants to go to the pool despite the fact that we always go to the pool on Friday nights. The demeanor of my wife, who wasn’t grumpy despite sitting on I-77 for an hour after work, is beginning to waiver.
I convince everyone – mostly by yelling – that we’re going to the pool to grill out. Our go to Friday meal on the grill is chicken kabobs wrapped in pancetta from Ferrucci’s – an awesome New York style market that’s been around for nearly 20 years and managed to survive the 2015 Exit 28 Recession caused by the installation of the Diverging Diamond Interchange. Did I mention we have road problems?
The kids eat hot dogs because I’m not feeding my kids chicken wrapped in imported Italian bacon.
I alternate between drinking beer in the waist deep water with other neighborhood dads, throwing Kid #2 in the air until my arms cramp and playing catch with Kid #1 using a ball that doesn’t belongs to us.
We leave when Kid #1 tells me that Kid #2 has been giving the middle finger to another kid in the pool.
Kid #2 has no idea what it means but she’s been doing it so it’s become a problem. Half the time she holds up the wrong finger; that makes it better, right?
We put the kids to bed and post up on the back deck with bourbon. Why? Because that’s what you do when you have two life anchors asleep upstairs.
Sometimes we watch TV on the outdoor set. Sometimes the neighbors show up.
Tonight we walk over to a neighbor’s house once the kids are asleep and end up staying way later than we’d planned.
When you move to a neighborhood with your kids make sure you move next to fun people or you won’t have a life.
At the end of the night I move CPI Security signs around to different yards because I think it’s funny.
My kids still wake up early. It’s terrible.
I forbid the use of any device that starts with the letter ‘”i” so they watch TV for a couple hours; I don’t know why I think that’s better than playing educational video games on an iPad.
My wife goes to a workout that probably costs an absurd amount of money per session. On occasion she goes to the same place as Dale Jr’s wife, which clearly means we can’t afford it.
I try to go fishing on Saturday mornings but shore casting is terrible in the summer. So instead I read the newspaper and sit shirtless on the back deck while drinking black coffee like a recovering heroin addict.
After coffee I do the meal planning for the week and make out a grocery list. I shop at Harris Teeter because only a mentally deranged person shops at Publix. I understand how that must sound coming from me.
My wife comes home with a Clean Juice from Birkdale. Clearly we’re not concerned about saving for college.
Wife and kids hit the Davidson Farmers Market while I drive to Home Depot because that’s what I do to avoid going to the Davidson Farmers Market.
We moved up here three years ago and I miss the Yorkmont market in Charlotte. The Davidson market is ok but there isn’t a ton of variety. There’s a lot of organic dog food and 50-year-old men in Teva’s and cargo shorts wearing pit-stained Al Gore shirts.
If you ever go to the Davidson Farmers Market, make sure you hit up Summit Coffee that fronts the market – it’s probably the most underrated coffee shop in the Charlotte area. I should point out that I’ve never been to any of the highly regarded coffee shops in Charlotte because why would I drive to Charlotte for coffee?
I mow the grass before the world becomes an inferno. Edge. Blow the sidewalk and driveway.
Admire the grass and the edging.
Seriously, my grass is amazing.
I keep asking my family if anyone wants to go outside and lay in it naked. Kid #2 said yes one time but backed out as soon as I got down to my underwear.
Wife goes to Target, but not before an extensive explanation to Kid #2 that she is not allowed to get ANYTHING at Target.
They return an hour later and Kid #2 has hair clips, a tank top and some gizmo from the dollar aisle. I unload massive packs of toilet paper and paper towels that we somehow plow through every other week.
This summer the Huntersville Target caught on fire and closed for a month. People lost their minds and completely forgot where they could buy the stuff they normally buy at Target. I saw a woman coming out of Lowe’s with a 48 pack of toilet paper. Who knew Lowe’s sold toilet paper? The experience made me regard preppers in a whole new light.
I don’t like eating with my kids.
I don’t like eating with people who need to be told to eat their food.
Plus they’re disgusting and obnoxious.
The girl chews with her mouth open and sounds like a horse with a feed bag strapped on her face. The boy has gotten better but he eats food in tiny bites with his fingers.
I take Kid #1 to Which Wich in Birkdale because our sandwich options are terrible.
My wife goes to Viva Chicken with Kid #2, who always orders white rice and beans but doesn’t eat it. The leftover container will sit in the fridge until Wednesday when I throw it out.
I love splash pads.
Birkdale and Smithfield Park have great ones.
We can’t go there anymore because my kids say they’re only for “little kids” and my wife says I can’t go to splash pads and play with other people’s kids.
So my kids wander the neighborhood in search of something to do while I wash the car.
My wife is cleaning something inside like mirrors or cabinets – things that I never notice are clean or dirty. When she emerges and asks me where the kids are, I respond as I always do, by smiling and grandly spreading my arms and saying: “I don’t know, the village is taking care of them.” She never finds it amusing.
The kids show up.
Kid #2 was sent home because she’s been at someone else’s house for minutes? Hours? I honestly have no idea how long. It’s definitely less than a day.
Kid #1 came home because he got in an argument with another kid over how tall they’re going to be and when they’ll get picked in the NBA Draft. I don’t have the heart to tell them that only way either of them is ever going to the NBA Draft is if they buy a ticket and sit in the stands.
Head to the pool for a cooling off.
No showers tonight for the kids!
Bathing children is terrible so I have the neighborhood pool guy toss in a little extra chlorine so the kids get super clean.
We hug the edge of the pool and watch child-less people walk by headed for Birkdale to do … I don’t know? Maybe a glass of wine and cheese plate at Corkscrew? Beer and dollar popcorn at Kilted Buffalo? Martinis and tuna nachos at Eez? Movie followed by a cone at Kilwins? Oh, the possibilities!
I look back and my son is pissing through the fence slats into the yard of the nice French lady next door. I never should have joined the HOA board.
We ride bikes home.
We order the kids Hungry Howie’s – a Midwestern pizza chain that has serviceable takeout if you have the palette of an elementary school child – because I’ve been cooking all week and I’m tired of cooking.
Why Howie’s? It’s across the street and I make most of my life decisions based on proximity.
Kid #1 hates all babysitters and Kid #2 prefers to be watched by anyone but us, so finding and keeping a sitter isn’t easy.
I think this one came off Craigslist but I honestly have no idea.
We avoid Birkdale like the plague because every restaurant is jam-packed with families. Who wants to be surrounded by other people’s kids during a night away from our kids?
We usually do a drink and an appetizer at a few different places.
We start with fried oysters and $15 cocktails at Kindred. I’m told these cocktails are better than other cocktails because they have long peels of cucumber, get stirred by really long-handled spoons, and have lots of drops from tiny little bottles that look like they contain poison from medieval times. Also, the bartender has a well-oiled beard and is wearing suspenders so he must really pay attention to detail.
On to Fork – a well-known but seriously underrated gem – for a Hop Drop and two small apps. If you love Good Food then you’ll be at home at Fork. Fun bartender who is neither sporting suspenders nor a beard, and I truly respect her for that.
We make a final stop at Alton’s near the Peninsula for the tuna poke and avocado.
The sun has set and the cougars are out.
Lake cougars are a unique species of cougar.
Time to go home.
Time to hit the water.
We go out two or three times a week in the spring and fall but in the summer we only go out on weekday evenings and before noon on Sunday.
Why Sunday morning? People aren’t drunk yet.
Also, most Southlake roads are impassable on Sundays because our two megachurches tie up traffic.
I don’t understand why someone’s decision to go to a giant church means I have to wait in line every Sunday while a police officer directs 400 cars out of a parking lot every hour on the hour.
We sold our old beater boat last year and joined a boat club – you pay a monthly fee and have access to a bunch of boats that you reserve online.
I don’t miss owning a boat at all. You have to constantly clean and fix boats when you own them – unless you buy a new one and even then you only have a few years until it starts breaking down. Our old boat died on the water so many times that I paid for a service called Tow Boat US that tows you back to the dock for free.
We got towed so many times that Kid #1 and I appeared in their print ads during the summer of 2015.
Lunch with the kids. Again. Ugh.
We ride bikes to Qdoba in Birkdale because we don’t have a True Taco or Sabor or any other trendy taco places. Are those places even trendy? I have no idea.
We lose Kid #1 for nearly an hour when he takes a shortcut through the woods. We finally find him but he won’t eat his burrito bowl because he’s upset and Kid #2 won’t eat her nachos because I didn’t order them like my wife does.
After lunch we go see Wrigley, the tiny dog owned by the woman who sells dog food and trinkets next to the Birkdale splash pad.
I point to the splash pad and smile and get nothing but eye rolls, so we hop back on the bikes and ride home.
Everyone disappears as soon as we walk in the door.
My wife says something I can’t hear before the front door shuts and the car is gone.
I already mowed and it’s too hot to start anything else on my To Do list.
I start to go to the grocery store to do the shopping for the week, but there’s a rain cloud in the distance and I don’t feel like putting the doors and windows on my car, so I bike to the pool.
My wife shows up in the pool parking lot looking more than a little perturbed. I wonder where they were? Were they all together? Was the village caring for the children?
She dumps off the kids, a variety of pool toys, and drives away.
Clearly I was supposed to be doing something besides going to the pool by myself.
I climb out of the pool and pick up my phone “5 Missed Calls – Wife.” Ouchie.
After a couple more hours of throwing around kids we head home to make dinner.
Sunday dinner for the kids is anything that comes in a box or a can. Tonight it’s Annie’s organic mac and cheese shells.
The processed bleached pasta and unrefrigerated cheese goo is better for them than normal mac and cheese because it’s organic.
Turn on a movie.
No baths – they’ve been swimming all day and chlorine came after the lake water so, you know, they’re clean.
Locate the kids’ backpacks from Friday and pull out the now-moldy damp bathing suits and towels.
Repack with dry suits and towels, and check to make sure we have lunch stuff for the next day.
Add chips to the grocery list.
My wife puts the kids to bed while I stay downstairs because she’s so much better at putting them to bed than I am.
That’s not just me trying to avoid putting them to bed. She’s better.
With her they get books, stories, inside jokes and snuggling. There are songs and nightly traditions. You can actually hear them making real memories that they’ll share with their children someday. I put them to bed like it’s the opening boot camp scene in Full Metal Jacket: “GET IN THE RACK! LIGHTS OUT MOTHER F*****S!”
On Sundays I get takeout from Pho Nam, the Vietnamese restaurant across the street next to Hungry Howie’s. The owner John is the nicest guy and always offers me a free orange soda because I’m nine years old and he knows I love orange soda.
My wife goes back to Viva Chicken. Netflix. Pause Netflix at least five times because a kid has wandered downstairs and all of our favorite shows have an obscene amount of profanity in them.
Bedtime. Peel contacts from eyes. Brush teeth.
Floss? I’ll do it in the morning. Collapse in bed.
Plug in phone.
Yep. I forgot to go grocery shopping again.