Friday, July 29, 2011

It seemed like a good idea at the time

Have you ever had this great idea for an activity or outing with your kids that you think is the best idea and everyone would have so much fun, including you. But when the activity takes place, it turns out to be the most horrible idea, you immediately regret your decision, and you think to yourself, “what in the world was I thinking?!?” Well when this happens, ask yourself this: What was the situation when this seemingly wonderful idea came to me? I’ll give you a firsthand example of what I mean.

This week we have had our 2 nephews stay with us for a fun summer vacation for them and for our kids as well. They are 9 and 7 years old…boys. So in our house this week are 5 boys ages 9,7,6,3, and 1. Well there is one decision that might have seemed like a good idea at the time but I guarantee was made under controlled circumstances, by my wife. Another decision that was made this week was to set up our tent in the backward and have the older boys sleep outside for a night; also an idea from my wife. But this decision was also made in a controlled environment during a controlled time period. What I mean by this is that this decision was made after dinner, kids in bed, in the house while sitting on the couch in our living room. So in other words: our bellies were full, we were well rested, the kids were not annoying us or super hyper but asleep, and we were on comfortable furniture in the air conditioning. So pretty much the exact opposite of camping outside in a tent. Of course, tent camping with the children sounds like a great idea at the time. My suggestion is this: Before making a decision like tent camping, put yourself as close as you can in that situation and then consider if it is a good idea. Like for tent camping, lock yourself in a sauna, line the floor with rocks, wrap yourself in a sleeping bag, give 3 boys under ten 2 pounds of sugar each, put them on top of you and then turn out the lights. Now make the decision if tent camping is a good idea.

Here is the story:
We plan to set up the tent and camp outside on Wednesday night, so in the afternoon we all go outside to set up the tent.

The first inclination that this might not be the best idea is that while we set up the tent, the temperature reaches 95 degrees outside. And quick correction, I said we, I meant me. Because halfway through putting the poles into place, the boys thought it was too hot so they went inside.

Also, I haven’t mowed the grass in 2 weeks due to the heat of the day and the day before, the boys played outside in the water tearing up the grass with the slip and slide and soaking the grass making it un-mowable. After the tent is set up, our plan is to rent a movie and watch it in the tent. But because it was so hot outside, we decide to watch it inside in the air conditioning. So we watch Rango and the kids love it.

At this point it is 8:00 and time for bed for the 2 younger boys. It was at this point when my wife thinks, “Let’s keep this party going and have the older boys sleep outside tonight. And not only that, lets rent another movie for them to watch. And not only that, you get to watch the movie and sleep outside with them too since I have to stay in the house with the little kids.” So she goes out to rent movie #2 and I gather all the sleeping bags to take outside.

I take our computer outside to watch the movie in the tent. So the 3 boys and I load into the tent and turn the movie on. At this point it is 9:15. I am thinking “ok, I know it’s late but that means we could be asleep by the end of the movie at 11:15.” But at 9:45 I call Lindsey from the tent to inform her that we have been watching previews for the last half an hour! You may be asking, “Why didn’t you skip them?” Fact is I tried and the computer messed up and we had to start them over again, so therefore we had to watch them through, all 30 minutes of them. So now, it will be midnight when the movie is over and we can go to sleep. While the movie plays, I go inside to get drinks and stay hydrated because the tent is reaching 3 digit temperatures. And not only that but when it became too dark to see outside, our dog decided to poop in the yard somewhere, and it was now wafting into the tent and the poop stench began to mix with the sweaty boy smell. When inside, I inform my wife of the “fun” we are having to which she begins to laugh and pee her pants at my misery. So what drinks did I get? Why sugar-loaded juice drinks of course. Why not at 10:30 at night? I thought it would go well with the cookies and popcorn they had during their first movie.

The movie ended around 11:30 (thanks Yogi Bear for being short) and the boys were now to giddy and sugar high to sleep. So let the arm fart contest commence! I learned some valuable arm fart techniques from my 7 year old nephew Will, that it only works if your arm pit is real sweaty in which they all were, so it was quite a concert at 11:30 at night. So I make the declaration at 11:45: “if you are all still awake at midnight, we are going inside to sleep.” Within 5 minutes, they were all sleeping…except me. Because I didn’t mow the grass, my space in the tent had random grass clumps sporadically placed around my body so nowhere I moved was comfortable. Not to mention the fact, that I did not have a sleeping bag but a small comforter. I highly recommend using a comforter to wrap yourself in when it is 90+ degrees outside. I finally fell to sleep out of pure exhaustion at 12:45 no matter what I was sleeping on. And the next day, wouldn’t you know it everyone woke up at 6:15 in the morning with the morning light. Now I know they can all have careers as famers when they get older because they are on the same sleep schedule.

So next time you have some grandiose plan like tent camping with your children in the dead of summer “for the memories” try to make yourself as uncomfortable as possible like sleeping on a bed of nails in a giant oven, and then reconsider your “good idea.” Or afterward you might be saying “it seemed like a good idea at the time.”

Now I’m off to plan some “good ideas” for my wife,
The Joyful and Tired Dad

Monday, July 4, 2011

The Great American Past Time: Time Killing

So what do you do when you have a 3 day holiday weekend for the 4th of July, you want to avoid the crowds and heat at the parade, the fireworks are too late at night for your children,you already had your super fun picnic on Saturday and were busy all day outside on Sunday but now its Monday, and nothing good is on TV? The same thing our forefathers did with their families ~200 years ago: Kill time until bed time!

You know our forefathers were also fathers. When they were not fighting revolutionary wars or framing our constitution and setting a government of the people for the people, they were at home brainstorming with their wives how to kill time until bed just like we do today. I mean you can only take a horseback ride or throw sticks into the creek for so long until the kids want to do something else. Life back then was rough. Think about it, they didn't even have Nick Jr. Nick Jr. is like pre-school 24 hours a day 7 days a week. They had the school marm who had to teach 100 kids grades first through 12 the same lesson in an 8'x 8' school house. No wonder so many dropped out by the sixth grade! They probably heard the same lesson 6 times at that point. Of course I am basing all my assumptions on Little House on the Prairie and if I were in their situation, if I had to be in the same class with Nelly I either drop out or opt for home schooling. But I digress. Point being, time killing has been around since the foundation of this country and before. I am surprised it wasn't included in the Bill of Rights, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of time killing or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom to do anything deemed necessary and fair during the day to kill time with your children until their appointed bed time which shall not intercede or overlap into the Parent's God-given right to watch CSI or the Bachelor and therein to judge said Bachelor for his douchbaggery and pretentiousness."

I must say we had originally had plans to go to the parade in the morning. But after waking up 6:30 and already dealing with cranky toddlers who had bickered for a straight 2 hours, the thought of fighting traffic and huge crowds and blistering heat or rain showers to watch a parade, if you even get a spot toward the street, that may or may not throw candy from the floats but will generously hand out paper advertisements for Karate or Dance Studios or your local congressman/judge/county auditor/sheriff and then leaving the area traffic will cause you make it home 15 minutes after they have all fallen asleep in the car exchanging a 15 minute nap for their normal 2 hour nap in their own beds causing you to also miss out on your nap time/off-duty parent time, did not seen worth the trip to a parade today. So instead we have good intentions to take them and our new puppy to the dog park. That went well for 10 minutes until Nate wanted to get down to play with the strange dogs, including the Jack Russel Terrier who growled and nipped at every dog in there including our 7 month old ferocious shi-poo 7 lbs attack puppy. So the 25 minute car ride was worth the 10 minute dog park time.

From there we were able to make it back to the house with everyone staying awake and taking advantage of the much needed "nap time/Adult swim." We were all able to take naps, some shorter than others (sorry Lindsey) due to a 6 year old who hates naps as much as broccoli. But I got to take one, God bless America! When we were all awake, we decided to brave the place only daring or selfish parents attempt to take their children: the movie theater. We loaded up on snacks, candy, and sippy cups and set out for the dollar theater. Dollar theater because we were honest with ourselves knowing we might not make it through the whole thing and it is easier to leave a $3 theater bill versus a $60 AMC spend-a-thon after tickets and snacks. We took the 20 month old for his first movie, Rio. Nate was on my lap and everything was going well for the first bag of M&Ms, then Nate started to get fidgety. At this point here is the tally for what was covered in chocolate from Nate's M&Ms: his hands, his face, his hair, his forehead, his clothes, my arms, my shirt, my pants, the movie chair, and the bottom of his left shoe. The candy that melts in your mouth not in you hand, my foot! No really, it was on my foot too! Nate was then given a sucker which he proceeded to touch my arm and face with until he got upset about being on my lap and threw it 10 feet down the aisle. Of course that was after he took his shoe off and also tossed that on the floor. So what did I do when M&Ms and suckers no longer satisfy? That's right, send him down to Mommy. She was already dealing with Drew who was also fidgety and had consumed his own 3000 calories in chocolate and licorice. Nate wanted to sit on the folding movie seat but due to his light weight, fell between the seat and back of the chair and got stuck. I then had to pull him out while Lindsey is telling me to find his second shoe on the floor that he had removed. So I am now on my hands and knees in the dollar theater feeling around in the dark finding nothing but used sucker sticks and wet M&Ms that went into the mouth but then fell out, only to find out Nate still had his second shoe on his foot! So being sticky, covered in chocolate, sucker sticks, and something green, feeling a sugar headache approaching, Nate beginning to scream uncontrollably, Drew unable to sit in one place for 2 seconds, and Zachary talking to the screen like he was the only one there, it was time to leave. We walked out of the theater and saw that Nate had what looked like dried blood all over his hands and forehead! But after licking his head I found it to be melted red candy coating. Zachary then asked if we were going back in to finish the movie to which Lindsey responded "No, we wanted to leave early to make sure we beat the crowds coming out of the theater and make it to our car first." She is so funny and he bought it. The best part of the movie trip: it took us right up to bath and bed time. They had so much crap food at the movies, we pumped them full of carrots for dinner and sent them off to bed.

Avoided a parade, check. Visited the dog park, check. Got a nap, check. Attempted a family movie, check. No blood, only M&Ms, check. Children in bed by 7:30, check. Time killed today, check. Showered and unsticky, not checked.

Thank you forefathers for being fathers too,
The Joyful and Tired Dad