“I wanted a perfect ending. Now I've learned, the hard way, that some poems don't rhyme, and some stories don't have a clear beginning, middle, and end. Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what's going to happen next. Delicious Ambiguity.”Gilda Radner

Monday, January 16, 2012

Why Fun is the F-Word

In writing this blog, I have received a lot of nice compliments.  Above all the rest stands, "You sound like such a good mother."  Well, I think I'm about to blow that out of the water (as my dad would say).

I'm not proud of it, but I say NO to nearly everything.  It's one of those things that I really hated about my own mother growing up, but there it is.  The question won't even be complete.  It will have been beautifully constructed mentally, and then, as soon as the W word is out, or the "Can I..." the big NO shuts everyone down.

I usually have valid reasons, of course.  It's dangerous.  It's unhealthy.  It's ludicrous (seriously, Noah, you just CANNOT go swimming at Grandma's house in January).  Or, and this is the crime right here, I just don't want to.  Things that fall in this latter category are painting, Play-Doh, anything with scissors or glitter or glue, and Chuck E. Cheese.  (Actually, I have quite a lengthy list of reasons "I just don't want to" go to Chuck E. Cheese, but it could be its own blog entry so I'll save it for another day.)

When it comes right down to it, a catch-all rule from my middle-school classroom has wiggled its way into my home: Fun is the F-Word.  When I finally came right out and told this to my children, I watched Joey wrestle with it emotionally.  At long last, when reason won over and I could see that he just HAD to set me straight, he came to stand in front of me silently.  He placed both his hands on mine and leaned forward earnestly.  He said, "No, Mom.  That is NOT what the F-Word is."  Clearly, his Catholic school education is paying off.  And God love him, he is so wonderfully earnest.

But in my house, Fun IS the F-Word.

It doesn't keep them from trying, though.  On Friday, Joey came home from school already chanting, "C'we play ousside NOW?  C'we play ousside NOW?  C'we play ousside NOW?"  But on Friday, I felt that playing outside fell under the "dangerous, unhealthy, and ludicrous," headings because there was a snowstorm going on and the temps had fallen below 20 degrees.

On Saturday, Joey woke up not feeling well with a pretty bad sniffle, and the temperature was 11 degrees.   My mom hates this phrase, but it really was a "No Brainer."

Yesterday was an insane day monopolized by other people's birthdays, so playing outside was not even on the table.  Instead we went bowling.  Or as Noah calls it, "Balling."

So today was the day I couldn't escape.  The sun is shining, the air has warmed up, and there is still snow.  Rain is on the way, so it was now or never.  Avoiding anticipatory insanity, I secretly gathered up snowsuits and scarves and waterproof mittens and boots.  I chose weather-appropriate outfits and dressed the boys.  And then I said the phrase I knew would cause total mayhem.  "Do you want to go play in the snow?"

It really was cute.  Noah started skipping and singing, "We're play-ing in the snow!  We're play-ing in the snow!"  and Joey dropped down on one knee, pumped his fist, and said, "YESSSSSSSSS."  I felt pretty great.  It was like that time I bought Noah the giant, enormous lollipop nobody ever buys their child.  But like that time, this didn't end very well.

Here is why, in my house, fun is the F-Word.

I methodically dressed the boys so I would not lose my patience early.  Snow pants.  Zip, zip.  Buckle, buckle.  Snow boots.  SHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOVE.  Velcro, tie, tie.  Special waterproof, elbow length mittens (check out Leaps and Bounds, these are pretty great).  Where is your thumb? "I don't know."  Is your thumb in the thumb spot?  "I don't know."  Is it now?  Is it now?  Three pairs of mittens later, Noah is wearing Joey's knitted Batman gloves.  I warn him these will get wet and make his hands cold, but Noah is always very sure I'm a moron.  Next, neck muffs (also from Leaps and Bounds).  Hats.  Coats.  Ready to go.

I donned Joe's big snowboarding coat and my very jazzy snow boots (which I bought without the intention of ever wearing them in actual snow), and opened the door.  The cold air stung our faces immediately, and we pushed off for the backyard.

Five minutes out, and Noah's hands were wet and hurting.  He was crying.  I brought him back in the house to change into the original pair of mittens I had put on him.  Back outside.  Three minutes later, Joey falls on the patio and is sure his leg is broken.  I can't see it because of his many layers and he is screaming and crying hysterically.

Eight minutes of outside time.

In the house, Joey continued to cry.  He flopped over on the floor while I tugged off his boots, his mittens, his snow pants.  Noah cried because we were inside and flopped over on the floor while I tugged off his boots, his mittens, his snow pants.  Of course, he also flailed around to make sure I knew I had just ruined his life because Joey had fallen and gotten hurt and now we were inside making sure Joey was okay.  

Joey's knee: not swollen.  Not bruised.  Not even pink.  Totally fine.  "Sorry," he whispered.  He looked down at his hands.  My heart broke into little pieces.  Noah was still crying.

Twenty-five minutes of preparation.  Eight minutes of play.  Crying and misery and broken hearts.  THIS is why "fun" is the F-Word!

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