Mama’s Day & Chuck E. Cheese’s

Mothering young ones can very much feel, at times, like being a soldier in the trenches. But, it seems to me that a more wholistic picture of motherhood in the early years is like being in a ball pit at Chuck E. Cheese’s.

My view from the ball pit…

Everything is making noise! Do you remember being buried beneath the primary-colored plastic sea of balls at Chuck E. Cheese’s and trying to focus on, say…making it out alive? But, the sounds of the kids screaming; or yelling “cannon ball”; or the varied chimes, rings, buzzing that mimicked a family-friendly casino swirled all around – made us a tad overstimulated, as a child therapist would say? That’s a fair comparison, I think, to the symphony of chaos in a house with young kids.

Where is my (insert literally anything that you need to find)? It was a guarantee in the ball pit that a kid would lose an article of clothing, hair accessory, sense of security…I could go on…Oh how similar the scavenger hunt is in parenting. My husband has “lost” more tools than he can count at the hands of my daughter who turns countless inanimate objects into contraptions, decorations, and my favorite…re-gifting opportunities.

There are so many gross smells. I don’t need to expound. If you’ve been in ball pit and you’re a parent…you see the clear connection.

If you’re exhausted, the ball pit is the opposite of sleep. No room for sleepers in the ball pit. Better stay awake or you’ll get jumped on. I seriously tried to sleep in the ball pit as a kid. Never an option…

Jumping into the unknown is the best fun to be had. Every day of parenting a little person is an opportunity to unwrap the gift of a second childhood. Time to fingerpaint, color, dance, build, tear-down, imagine, design, imitate, laugh at people-getting-hurt (Three Stooges style)…yes, please, this is the life!

No matter the injuries or irritations in the ball pit, we wouldn’t miss it for anything and some of us even go back for more. Parenting is the most mentally, emotionally, and physically demanding service I’ve experienced. The mystery…side-by-side to the hard is this intensely deep sense of gratitude for the most precious experience. It’s all quite the miracle to me.

At the end of the day, nothing sounds better than a break from the ball pit to eat pizza (even if it’s stale). 

Happy Mother’s Day to all of us moms in the “ball pit” and those moms who are out of the “ball pit” now able to eat pizza in a kid-less restaurant. You’ve earned it!

May I Have Your Attention

Woodpeckers are amazing. Their brains have been designed for incessant pecking, using an uber-strong skull that actually saves them from brain injury. These birds are literally hard-headed.

Which brings me to the topic of whining and interrupting. After considering the woodpecker, I’m now convinced that small humans share the same modus operandi.

For instance, while I’m talking to my 6-year-old daughter, my 3-year-old son has a habit of repeating one question to me, increasing his speed in asking the question until it basically sounds like a flatline in the background of my conversation with my 6-year-old.

My daughter, on the other hand, has decided that the choice time for her interruptions is during small crises. Brother falls, lip is busted open, sister sees brother and tries to hug him, and before addressing blood loss, asks where her favorite leggings are. Meanwhile, mom is deciphering during toddler screams how to care for hurt child and wondering if daughter is in the same room in front of the same blood loss.

Don’t fret parenting-book fans, I do believe in training my children as well as using them for a good laugh. Many of the moments of kid-interruption are addressed by instruction to them about what to do if they’d like to speak to someone who is in the middle of a conversation. I also mention that their level of interrogation will only take them as far as a career in journalism, when they’ve outgrown their wings as a Woodpecker of course.

Knock Knock…

My nephew Liam tried out a knock knock joke on me recently, “Knock knock.” You know the next line…“Who’s there?” Poker-faced Liam replies, “Bacon.” Our turn… “Bacon who?” Wait for it… “Baconham Lincoln.” Mic dropped.

My daughter Arden’s comedic style is to skip straight to the punchline. “Knock knock.” “Who’s there?” “Stinky feet.” There’s no middle, just a surprise ending.

I’m not a comedy writer, but if I was, I think my control group for trying out material would be kids. They haven’t been conditioned by fear-of-failure yet and there is concentrated genius in their delivery and unexpected punchlines. They make you think without thinking. Just try to think without thinking!

Joking aside…kids make the best comedians.

Lizards and Other Outdoor Creatures

Try to perform your best lizard, lady bug, or roly poly impression. Yeah, I got nothin’ too.  But, my kids, they’ve talked to those creatures and can tell you, without hesitation, what their voices sound like (accents and all) and where each creature would score on a personality quiz.

Countless creepy, crawly, slimy, or slow-moving creatures miraculously strike up engaging conversations with my kids as if they were meeting over coffee. Usually during this “coffee talk”, the insect pleads to be adopted as a family member and move in to my kids’ room.

I know this because on any given day, my six-year-old will walk like she’s navigating a tight rope through either the front door or side door of the house leading to “Narnia” (a.k.a. our backyard), shifty eyes and all, uniting her hands in the shape of a dome, then catch my investigative-stare, and announce, “He wants to come inside.”

On the other hand, our three-year-old loves a good animal chase. I can only compare this to what I imagine a spectator of a bull ride feels like. Secretly, I hope my toddler makes it the full 8 seconds of the chase, but typically my nature-loving side is the one yelling out, “leave that bird alone Hudson!!”

But, my son hears the bird (or insert a different flying animal) say “Tag you’re it!!” Regardless of how close this kid is to a highway to hell (a.k.a I-4), if he sees a bird on the ground trying to eat, waddle, or people-watch, he’ll lock on target like a fighter pilot and throttle at mach speed toward anything with a wing span.

My point…the next time a wee one acts as the human ambassador for nature, I feel like we should go with it.