Thursday, August 25, 2011

House Rules

Today I had the (un)fortunate experience of playing the roll of sidelined mom, watching the kids play with some friends they found at the park, for the first time. I have always frowned upon, and inwardly judged, the moms who just sat around while their kids played, especially if their kids were quite young. Every fiber in my being would scream, "Be involved! Play with your children! Get off that bench!" Most times I feel that way (I'm making excuses for being so judgmental), it is sad as I watch children try to play with equipment they can't really handle alone, and they are looking for guidance, security and reassurance while mommy is talking on the phone, texting, or smoking weed in her car with her friends (true story).

But today there was no way around it. I was benched. I wanted to be the super cool mommy today, taking the kids there earlier than I normally would with packed lunches in hand. That went down hill fast as the bees were out in full force today and bolder than ever. The kids couldn't so much as take a bite of their PB&J without nearly eating a bee. So we laid that to rest, and just went to play.

Elijah quickly noticed a boy around his age that is usually there around the same time we are, and ran after him to play, leaving Chastity and I both in the dust. I cringed, as I kept on eye on them, not because the boy is a particularly bad boy, but because I know he has zero supervision. The "babysitter" (and I use that term loosely) who brings him and two other kids to the park each day, uses that time as her nap time. I've watched her day after day walk the kids to the park, put on her headset, and curl up nice and snug in one of the playground tunnels, rendering that portion of the equipment useless to the confused little onlookers. And so, when Elijah chooses this little boy to play with, I become the responsible party. Elijah and Chastity want to swing? So does their friend, who doesn't ask, but tells me to push him. Elijah and Chastity want to climb something they're too short to climb? So does their friend, who also needs and demands a lift, and slightly smells.

Today was a little different though. Elijah ran off with his friend, and Chastity asked to swing, so it was just us girls for a bit. When Chastity was done with the swing she went to join Elijah. At this time I heard their friend say, "Let's play house!"

Elijah looks around and asks, "What house?"

"You know...fake house."

He begins ordering Elijah around after declaring that he is the daddy and Elijah is the kid. I watch from a distance. My creative son can't come to grips with this new game. A girl who I assume is this little boy's older sister chimes in and decides that she is going to be the mommy and they are all her kids. She proceeds to point out their areas on the equipment that will be their bedrooms, and their game of "house" goes as follows:

"Go to bed! It's bedtime!"
"OK, get up. Here are your pancakes out of the freezer. Put them in the microwave for one minute, OK?"
"Now you can watch TV. Do you want Sponge Bob?" The little boy shouts in excitement as she pretends to turn on Sponge Bob and proceeds to sing the whole opening tune. My children have no idea who Sponge Bob is.
"Ok, do you want snacks? Here's some ice cream and cookies!" The little boy screams in delight.
"Ok, bedtime! Go to your rooms and go to bed!"

My two active children, who would normally be running all over the playground for a solid hour and a half, look utterly confused, and are now restricted to one small area where their game of house revolves around sleep, food, and TV. Really?

They cheerfully, but hesitantly begin to participate. At one point Elijah runs past me, and asks hopefully, "Are we going home?" Perhaps it is my hovering that confuses him. My pacing and watching and waiting, while inwardly screaming, "Put me in coach!" must have looked to him like I was getting ready to herd them in. "No. Not yet," I answer, while thinking, selfishly, that I could have them all to myself at home.

I sat down on the bench, and watched while thinking of the days when I was playing "house." My younger sister, our cousins, and I played house inside, and we played this game called house inside when we weren't able to go outside. When we did play it outside, I can remember that we raked up all of the mowed grass (you're welcome, Dad), and used the shredded grass to layout blueprint-like houses in the backyard. Yes, we were an amazing bunch of creative, intellectual, elementary children. To my recollection, none of our "house" games ever included watching an imaginary TV. We pretended to cook meals, clean, and take care of babies. When we were kids, pretending to be kids, we actually played games within our game of house.

I round the kids up when I realize it's after 1 and approaching nap time, and Sassy has had enough of taking orders. So much so that when I tell them it's time to go, the little boy and his older sister move on with their game, while Elijah and Chastity sense their freedom before lock down and run around the equipment in circles. I imagine they are picketing, and keep hearing, "NO! NO! We won't go!"

I snap out of it, put on my best Mommy's mad face, and tell them to come now or lose park privileges for the rest of the week.

Then add, "And the next time you play house, do it the way Mommy does...until you're put-yourself-to-bed exhausted by the end."

1 comment:

  1. That is the sad truth of today's kids. They are being raised by the tv and I was guilty of that myself. I have been reading a lot about spirituality and MANY have declared that the tv is a device used to control the masses. It is called the bread and circus because the PTB use this technique to keep us in line. I admire you for taking the Road Less Traveled. I love that book too :)Hugs, Hope and many blessing to you and yours...