Monday, April 1, 2013

How To Kill a Kid's Fun

I realized the other day that I am an assassin -- of FUN.

I took Connor and Brandon for a walk around our neighborhood. First, I stole their fun by not letting them dart into the street and get hit by a car. Then we reached this park area that's not really a park but is more like a big nature-y area that fronts some woods. We walked past the park so they could explore a small section of the woods. 

While we were walking past the park, Brandon kept waving at this WAY friendly maintenance man who was kind of pacing us. I started to get paranoid that the man was being super friendly and pacing us because he was planning on following us into the woods and murdering me and then stealing my kids. 

So I told Brandon to stop "bothering" him and told myself to not be such a paranoid freak. But I never took my third eye off the guy until he went back to the apartment complex that he maintains that's next to the park.

In the woods, Connor picked up a huge, flexible chunk of wood that had sheared off a tree and was waving it around until I stole his fun by telling him to put it down before he got slivers. 

Then they started playing around this gigantic tree in which part of it had been chopped off but some of the trunk remained and had tons of pointy parts sticking up from the ground. So I stabbed their fun in the heart by telling them not to play there so they wouldn't fall and get impaled on the trunk parts. 

They moved to another part of the tree base and I noticed a patch of sticker plants (I don't know what they're called... those plants with 7 trillion prickly sticker things coming out of their leaves) so I told them to get away from the tree before they fell into the sticker plants.

So they decided to throw rocks into the creek that runs between the park and the woods. But, it had been raining and the edge of the creek is littered with a billion leaves, and I told them to stay back from the edge, FAR back, so they didn't slip on the leaves and slide down the slope into the dirty creek. 

But then they were so far back that they couldn't see their rocks land in the creek. Fun: murdered.

 So they moved on to the bridge that goes over the creek to throw their rocks from.

The thing about that is, the siding of the bridge that is supposed to keep people from falling off of it has these giant gaps that Brandon could EASILY fall through. So I had to kill his fun by telling him not to lean through and hang over the slats. 

I suggested that we go back over to the park area so they could stand on this cement platform and throw rocks into a different part of the creek. As we were walking there, I had to tell Brandon to stop picking up rocks because he was inadvertently picking up garbage and probably dog shit.

Also on the way there, I noticed a strange patch of wildflowers and dandelions. It stood out because out of a large field of grass, this little patch was concentrated with the flowers and dandelions. So I wondered why that was and figured that something underneath must have fertilized the area. 

Then I realized that it was a grave-sized patch and wondered if there was a body buried under there and my mind wandered, trying to remember if anyone in our town has been reported missing lately.

We reached the platform and I saw chunks of either dirt or dog shit smeared all over it, so I had to cancel the platform fun and told them that we needed to walk back home for lunch.

At this point, I was totally fed up with myself. I was at war with myself. Half of me was like, dude, let this shit go. Let them explore and learn and live a little. I mean, my parents were very hands-off when it came to many things with me. From a pretty young age, I was left to play by myself or unsupervised with my friends or my half-siblings if they were around. I remember roaming pretty free in some woods surrounding a lake we spent weekends at every summer, or areas around my or my friends' houses. We all lived. We didn't sustain any major injuries. It was okay to wave at friendly people.

I could hear my dad's voice telling me to relax and let them be kids.

And the other half of me was like, no, fuck all that, I'm not going to deal with slivers and the hell that comes with trying to extract them, or dog shit, or major injuries, or my kids falling into a dirty, drug-paraphernalia-riddled creek, or what-the-hell-ever. My job as a mother is to protect them. These were all totally reasonable fears and cautionary actions on my part. 

And then I swung back to the other half and was thinking, but the only way I figured out how to pinpoint danger and learned about this stuff was by experiencing it myself. I mean, you only step on those sticker plants ONCE, and then you forever remember what they look like and to stay the hell away from them. You only experience the fear and pain of slipping and sliding down a slope ONCE before you learn to stay back and feel out the ground before firmly placing your weight on your forward foot.

And a million other things that you can only learn by experiencing. Or, by watching someone right next to you experience.

So as we walked back, war raging inside of me, I vowed that I will try to step back a bit, here and there, and let them learn what I've learned by letting them learn it how I learned it - through experience. But they're still pretty young and still need Mama's eye on them, so maybe I'll be better about it in a few years. 

To make up for all the fun I killed, once we reached our extremely low-traffic part of the street, I showed them how to float leaves with bark on them (boats with guys, people!) in rain puddles. 

No, I didn't color coordinate their outfits. 

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  1. I'm guilty of being a bit of a helicopter aka killjoy mama too.

    It's easy to compare what we did as children (safely and no harm came to us) and what we are restricted by now. I SO wish it was okay to let my kid play in our front freaking yard alone, or to tell my teenaged stepkid to "just come home when the street lights come on"

    It's hard to strike that balance between protection and overprotection. Good luck (I'll need some of that too).

  2. That's rad. Anna nicknamed me the "Fun Killer" once when she was pissed, and it stuck. Could be a worse nickname, but for now I'll take it :)

    1. Yeah I'm sure it'll change to something worse as she gets older! ;-)

  3. I completely understand the war between fun vs. safety. I mean, can't we all just get along?


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