My son and I were kicking the yoga ball around in the basement the other day when he suggested we bake cookies.
OK, lemme back up a sec….That might have been somewhat confusing, especially if you don’t have children.
One of the things that no one told me about having kids is their constant need to be entertained. This is mostly true when they’re little; once they get to the age where they can really participate in the fun adult stuff, they declare you unfleek (or whatever today’s word is for “uncool”) and plug into their electronics, effectively tuning you out until they need money or a ride somewhere.
But let’s take the nostalgia train to the days when they were little and still needed you. <insert nostalgic sniff>
As parents, you have many choices of methods by which to entertain your children.
Electronic Babysitters. Obviously, nowadays there are a number of electronic toys that can be used – iPads, laptops, your phone, video games, and good ol’ TV programming will all entertain your kids for
days hours at a time. However, society will deem you an unfit parent if you use any of these in public, and you risk losing your little ones and having them shipped to be raised on a rural farm in Idaho.
Chores. Interestingly, many older toddlers actually find it FUN to vacuum, dust and mop. (Clearly, they’re too young to know better….) Unfortunately, in the playacting, they tend to make a bigger mess than what you started with, and by the time they’re old enough to actually be helpful, they’re no longer interested in housekeeping as recreation. (Further evidence that our Creator loves irony.)
Reading. Since there are a bunch of writers here, we can’t forget about books. I LOVED books as a child. Still do, when I have time to read. Unfortunately, my son didn’t inherit this gene. One summer, when he was struggling to learn to read and we were trying to get him to go over his practice readers, he attempted to feed the books to the cat. At the time, our cat did like to chew on paper on occasion, so the plan isn’t as farfetched as it sounds, even though it failed. Eventually, when we threatened him with a tutor, he did a complete 180 and suddenly figured it out. (Literally – within a week he went from barely recognizing letters to plowing through the practice readers. That tutor must have been a real ogre. Hey, whatever works, yo.)
Arts and Crafts. Oh, I nearly forgot “crafts.”
<wipes tears from eyes>
Have you tried crafts with little kids? If not…well, really, it’d be more contained of a mess if you just opened fire with a paintball gun in your living room. And if you’re
stupid brave enough to open the glitter, know that this is a decision more permanent than a tattoo, and you WILL be finding random sparkle EVERYWHERE IN THE HOUSE FOREVER AND EVER. On the ceiling. In the carpet. Behind the fridge. IN the fridge. You could burn down your house and rebuild and I guarantee you that you’ll STILL find glitter somewhere, right along with cat or dog hair, even though Sir Shedsalot died well over fifteen years ago.
Anyway. My son hates crafts. But we’ve tried. I do have evidence of a couple of attempts.
Exhibit 1. Ice Cream Pie. I’ve shared this one before….but it’s worth another look.
When my son was in kindergarten, his class made a recipe book. He needed to illustrate a favorite recipe from home. I present his interpretation of “Ice Cream Pie”:
It’s worth noting that I have never, EVER, made Ice Cream Pie. Ever. I asked him later why he chose this recipe. “Mom. It’s pie. Anyone can draw a circle.” Well, kiddo, clearly not EVERYONE. Love you.
Exhibit 2. Turkey Disguise. In this traditional Thanksgiving exercise, children were sent home with a paper drawing of a turkey, and were told to make a “costume” for it so that it would not be recognized, therefore escaping the seasonal fate of ending up on someone’s dinner table.
So…here’s the one he made, next to the one his sister did:
Now, to be completely fair, since he turned it upside down and cut all the feathers off, he really DID disguise the bird beyond all recognition. So, super effective, but kind of missing the point. I think. Either that, or it’s genius.
Athletic Activities. Since we’ve exhausted the other options, it seems that the only thing left is sports. Unfortunately, physical activity is not my forte. But my son is quite athletic. First, he’s super-strong, like Bamm-Bamm from the Flinstones. Here he is at age 7 1/2, carrying his cousin:
Note that the older cousin was about NINETY pounds at the time. Hell, I can’t lift 90 pounds. I can barely get off the couch some days, ya know?
He also loved baseball. He had a wicked arm back in the day, and loved to play in ANY weather:
But now that I’m in the Midwest, there are days where it’s truly too cold to be outdoors. (Or too hot, so they tell me, although I have yet to find a day where it’s too warm for me to sit outside. Clearly, I’m an orchid in a family of crocuses.) So we have to get creative with the indoor games. Fortunately, we have a mostly-finished basement that gives us a 25×20 space in which to roughhouse. We have a dartboard and a foosball table, but you can only play those for so long, so we supplement with pool noodles and a variety of inflatable beach balls and Nerf guns to create a variety of indoor sports.
Side note: Pool noodles are awesome cheap indoor entertainment. You can get ’em at the dollar store, and they’re quite versatile: Lay it flat and it’s a border/line for dodgeball, fold it in half and it’s a baseball bat, or hold one end in each hand in front of you and you’re a human basketball hoop. And, of course, they’re naturals for sword play. (Well, until someone gets whacked in the face, at least. But you normally get about ten minutes of uninterrupted time first, so balance that risk/reward portfolio for yourself.)
This summer we’re more into playing darts with the Nerf Gun (which, surprisingly, seems to work with the electronic board) and playing some version of two-square with the yoga ball. (Yeah…this is the most use my yoga ball has had since I bought it. Don’t judge; I know you probably have some piece of exercise equipment in your personal Graveyard of Good Intentions, too.) Basically, you have to keep the yoga ball moving – but you can’t use your hands. And it’s more fun to kick when it bounces, because you can lob it off your knees and make it ricochet off the ceiling. (Am I not the coolest mom on the planet?) You get bonus points for keeping the ball airborne, even though we don’t seem to quite know how to keep score. Second bonus is that it seems to be a pretty decent thigh workout, but don’t tell my kid that, because he’ll probably quit playing if he discovers it’s actually GOOD for you.
So the other day we’re in the two-square zone, on a wicked streak, with the score Q to ketchup or some such, when we have this conversation:
Son: We should make cookies.
Me: We can do that….I’ll need to buy stuff. What kind are we making?
Son: The kind you made last year with M. (his sister)
Me: Which ones? We made a few.
Son: The oatmeal raisin ones. Except without the raisins. Like, with cinnamon and stuff.
Me: …we never made those without raisins. Do you mean the peanut butter ones with the chick peas? (We made these – and they were DELICIOUS.) We’d have to get chocolate chips.
Son: No, they didn’t have chips. But they were chocolate.
Me: You don’t mean the black bean brownies, do you? (Yes, we tried those too. Also two thumbs up, as long as you don’t tell anyone what’s in them.)
Son <with eyroll>: Mom. I know what brownies are. No. These were, like, flat on the bottom. (Super helpful clue there.) What shape are peanut butter cookies?
Me: They’re…like, cookies. You drop a blob and smoosh ’em and bake them….
Son: No…wait. We didn’t bake them. And they looked like no-bakes.
<insert light bulb flash of recognition>
No-bakes it is.
So we made a batch. And then another, because I can’t be trusted around no-bakes. The recipe I use is pretty close to this one, except I use brown sugar, and I omit the butter and use more peanut butter instead. (Because butter is narsty.) Also, I seem to need more oats than the recipe calls for – it might be because I use the hippie-dippie gluten-free oats, which apparently have superpowers and repel sugar and chocolate, or something.
Anyway. While we were stirring, I asked him what he thought of my new Dr. Martens.
Me: So…do you think your sister will like them, or will she totally be annoyed by them?
Son: Wait. What? They’re shoes?
Me: Yeah…they’re boots. <nervous pause> What did you think they were?
Son: Pants. Like, cheetah-print pants. Or something.
I’m not sure which is more disturbing: the fact that my kid didn’t know what Dr. Martens are, or that he thought I would actually buy cheetah-print pants.
Clearly, this parent’s work isn’t done yet. But hey, he still talks to me, and still wants to kick a yoga ball around with his mom, so I’ve gotta be doing something right, right?
Since this recipe seems to be working, I’ll just keep stirring. No baking required. 🙂