Sunday, March 26, 2017

Two Buck Chuck

Way back in January, we celebrated Noah's birthday with his much desired and anticipated wish - a trip to Chuck E. Cheese.

Chuck E. Cheese is such a weird land of distortion - heavenly crack for kids and sticky hell for adults. There's nothing really objectionable about's just...sad.

It wreaks of all that is pathetic in entertainment - garish lights, empty rewards, acquisitive greed...very bad food.

But my kids would never know their parents' disdain. To them it was a mecca of F-U-N!!!!!!! Their eyes lit up like stars, their faces had giant grins, they devoured the soggy pizza and declared it delicious.

And the games. They played those rigged games and collected those worthless tickets as if it were gold pieces coming out of those slots.

Incidentally, this was the only time during Noah's birthday day that he wasn't melting down and crying every 3 minutes. Previous to this, anytime I asked him to do something he didn't want to (for example, brush his teeth, visit the potty, eat something that wasn't a candy bar, put on clothing, etc.) he would wail "But it's my birthday!!!! You're making me do this on my birthday?!?! You're making me SAD on my birthday!!!!!"

It was a LONG. Day.

But as soon as we entered the land of Cheese, Noah was all smiles from beginning to end.

The next day the kids talked of nothing but returning to that magical world of delight.

And that's just fine with me. I'm all about keeping their expectations low so they don't become jaded too early in life. Better to keep them thinking that Chuck E. Cheese is the pinnacle of entertainment for as long as possible so when we finally go to Disneyland one day, their minds will be blown to smithereens.

Chuck, you're a good stand-in for your uppity mouse cousin, Mickey.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Fooling Around on a Pedal-Boat

Last week I took my kids pedal-boating at a local lake and it was as near perfection as we can get on this side of eternity.

Leaving the dock, all smiles...for now.

The grand beauty of nature - just like a Bob Ross painting! - say my Netflix saturated kids.

This sweet face...belies so much naughtiness.

Until 20 minutes in...and the boys do what boys do - fool around.

The oompa-loompa in the back starts getting restless. Uh-oh.

I can't tell you how much I hate when they "fool around." And because I'm overly analytical, here's some bullet points to explain why such an innocuous sounding thing makes me want to spit out hellfire.

--It violates logic. Fooling around, by its very nature, is extreme silliness. It hurts my very ordered brain. I have to listen to stupid nonsensical phrases repeated ad nauseum ("booba-lay-lay!" "hairy!" "hairy boob!") and field totally stupid questions that only get shouted at me louder if I try to ignore them ("Why I can't I fly right now?!" "What if I poop in the water?!")

--It literally rocks the boat. All their wild fidgeting made my stress-levels sky high as I imagined our boat capsizing and my kids completely soaked (and the loud and prolonged whining and crying that would ensue).

--It causes general harm and mayhem. When the kids fool around at home it is generally punctuated by cries of bodily injury (that would've been worse if I weren't there to grab someone or cushion someone mid-fall) and bits of destruction to the house and furniture. Again, very stressful to witness.

--It causes food mess. What I hate the most is when the kids fool around at the dinner table. Crumbs spew out of mouths. Milk gets snorted and sprayed out within a 3 feet radius. People fall out of chairs and cry. I seriously loose my appetite whilst eating so often and have to excuse myself from the table just 2 minutes into our meals. I. Can't. I. Just. Can't. It's like having dinner with warthogs.

And the number one thing I hate the MOST about fooling around:

There's no reasonable way to limit it.

What can I say to my kids except "Stop fooling around!!!!"

And as every parent knows, discipline only works if it's specific and targeted. Do you know how vague "fooling around" is? What does that even mean in terms of actual behavior?

Stop laughing?
Stop saying silly things?
Stop moving erratically?
Stop flailing your appendages so as to increase the odds of knocking something off the table by more than 50%?

I either end up sounding ridiculously harsh ("stop having such a good time!!!!") or way too strict ("stop moving your hands!" "and feet!" "and body!!!!!")

Oh kids.

Always ruining perfect moments and good times.

But there are some shining seconds where all is right and our world seems shot through with grace. And I think to myself, maybe it wasn't a huge mistake to have kids after all. Maybe, nay, most certainly, they are the best things to ever have happen to me.

We took a normal looking a picture! It's a half-second miracle!

My greatest gifts.

Even if it kills me. Or maybe, more precisely, because it kills me.