Freedom from Adults Interfering in Play Time

Happy Fourth of July everyone! This post is about freedom for kids. Freedom from Mom and Dad and their (well-intentioned) interfering ways. As Americans we keep encroaching on childhood, we chip at it, “improve” it, “enrich” it, basically in the name on “in your best interest” we don’t let kids be kids anymore. This post wasn’t actually originally written as a 4th of July post, but it did strike me as appropriate for today. So happy Fourth & have a safe and happy holiday!

A friend of mine and I the other day were talking about Superheroes, and the lack of female superheroes. We could list maybe ten or so, I’m referring to traditional superheroes, like in comic books. Women like Wonder Woman and Storm. Then it occurred to me that the flip side of this missing character was also true, there are very few real characters (I mean developed characters with personalities past “he slayed the dragon and rescued the princess”)of male hero status in traditional Princess stories. Think about it, we could come up with 10 female superheroes, from the boy-centric Superhero world, but we could only name 1 (Prince Charming- and how the hell is that even a name?) hero from the girl-centric world of Princesses. Now, she and I both grew up exposed to regular American pop culture as little girls (perhaps her slightly less than me, but that is another story entirely), we read the stories, we played what we read and saw, just like any normal kids would. We have chatted many times as adults about our different but similar childhoods, she a home-schooled smarty (whose not at all socially awkward for the record), me the product our public school system (who is smarty enough to know I wouldn’t want to be in a battle of smarts with this lady). We also grew up in different places, different birth orders, etc. The point is, despite all these “big” differences, we played about the same. This got me thinking about kids playing, and how as adults it’s the big thing to make sure we have equality for the sexes (especially girls right now) we work at it, we get into internet fights over it. People blast Lego for pink Legos and all the Princesses for being too whatever it is that they are too of. (I think the answer is girly, but then you aren’t supposed to say that). We analyze cartoons for cripes sake. This heroine isn’t strong enough, she’s too focused on being pretty. That hero is all ridiculous muscle and chauvinism and violence. There aren’t enough fill-in-the-blank with a race/religion/culture/body type/gender/you get the idea characters for kids to relate to. My Mommy blood is getting all boily just typing about the injustice of it all. But then I Really thought about it. Yes, some of those are legitimate concerns, but why do we, as grown-ups think we know better/can do better at the one thing kids will always be better at than adults? Play. Play is the world of kids. They rock at it. After our conversation the other day, I’m definitely going to back away (not disappear, but stop interfering so much)and let my kids play.

Why? I realized that it all really does get made equal when you add a child’s imagination to whatever form the story came in. How many times in your childhood was Barbie’s wedding to GIJoe disrupted (ie made more interesting) by the horde of marauders (various action figures like Ninja Turtles of He-men in my childhood) riding in on their vicious steeds (My Little Ponies)? Or the oversized cardboard box the new fridge came in that started as the box car for the Boxcar Children, then morphed into a dungeon where a pair of evil witches held a young prince captive for years (or until Mom got that box the hell out of her living room and into the trash)? What about the bicycles that were timid plow horses from Little House on the Prairie one day, raging winged beasts from some dark world I can’t remember the name of right now the next, and then they were the tough horses of cowboys (and cowgirls) who might rob a bank one morning then rescue a dog from a burning building that afternoon? This is how my kids play too. There were three of us, my brother, my sister, and me. I was the oldest (ie the best/a bossy little bitch), my brother was the youngest (ie the baby/ poor kid who put up with a lot) and my sister in the middle (ie the classic middle/abused from both sides). We played pretend constantly. No matter the original inspiration for our play, we always made it ours. If we needed villains, we were villains. If we needed heroes, we were heroes. None of us cared what the original gender/race/stature of the character we were being was. We played boy parts and girl parts, all three of us. Sometimes we died, sometimes we made miraculous recoveries, sometimes death played no part in the game at all. But that’s kind of my point. We just played. (and fought, but mostly played) Do you have a little princess at home? Watch, if you leave her be, she’ll also play the roles of evil witch, good witch, hero rescuer, maybe even the dragon. Do you have a little superhero? If you leave him alone, he might also be the evil mastermind, the scientist who cures the plague, a sorcerer (good or bad), the injured prince rescued by the princess, or even the bear cub. If you have ever watched kids really play you will see this, there are plots, there are character developments, there is intrigue, drama and morals running through their play. They don’t need (or even really want) us to equalize it for them, they do it on their own. The two sisters who take turns playing the bride or the groom, the two brothers who take turns being the rescued or the rescuer, they do it better than we ever could. This past Christmas I bought my youngest and his cousin a giant bin that I filled with “pretend stuff”. They love it. They can be anything from postal workers to firemen to cooks, and several things in between. I did avoid the pink cookware (I found black, which looks like real cookware and stops making it girl/boy stuff), but those two put on chef’s hats and “cook” up a storm. It’s great to watch them come up with ideas.

I guess I just wanted to put my two cents in on the whole parental “fixing” of play-time. I realized, outside of safety issues, I need to get the adult out of playtime. What do you think? Where do stand? Should we just let them be kids or should we continue this battle to make everything the same? Are we doing more harm than good? Let me know what you think.

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Afternoon Pool Silliness; or “You grabbed my nipples!”

On Monday our pool here at the hotel opened for the summer. (And then closed yesterday, because it rained? I still don’t understand that, but whatever.)We had a blast, an all day at the pool sort of day. As RedBird and I were sitting beside the pool monitoring the cousins in the pool we kept laughing at the extreme silliness (or maybe our own immaturity) at what was happening in the pool, or better what was shouted/squealed across the pool. So here it is our play-by-play of silly things said at the pool:

*Side Note: Our cast of characters for the day are: RedBird, my SIL, mother to K-Man, and Aunt to my kids; K-man, my 3-year-old nephew; BoyChild I; BoyChild II; GirlChild; and me Mama. *

The Scene: Older 2 children are playing/teaching/generally harassing BoyChild II the classic Marco Polo, in a smallish hotel pool that only goes from 3ft to 4ft 6in in-depth, all of them can swim to varying degrees of proficiency.

GirlChild: Marco

BoyChild I & II: Polo

GirlChild: (moving towards BC II) Marco

BoyChild I & II: Polo

BoyChild I: This water is hard to get friction on!

(laughter)

GirlChild: What?

BoyChild I: I can’t run, no friction

GirlChild: That’s not what fri- never mind, tag you’re it!

BoyChild I: Hey! (irritated face) But I couldn’t get enough friction.

(argument ensues over the definition of the word friction) (back to our game…)

BoyChild II: Marco

BoyChild I, GirlChild & K-Man: Polo (one of these persons was not actually playing, he was standing on the steps laughing his fanny off about confusing the other kids)

BoyChild II: Marco

BoyChild I, GirlChild & K-man: Polo

BoyChild I & GirlChild: Hey! You can’t peak!

BoyChild II: I didn’t mean to!

Mama: Play by the rules, or no one will want to play with you.

Mama to RedBird: Every time they say polo, he opens his eyes because he’s startled, watch…

BoyChild II: Marco

BoyChild I, GirlChild & K-man: Polo (BC II jumps & opens eyes in shock, than quickly closes them)

(laughter from the sidelines)

RedBird to Mama: It’s like he can’t believe how close they are to him

K-man: Polo

BoyChild II: Marco

BoyChild I, GirlChild & K-man: Polo

(BC II grabs at/tags his brother blindly)

BoyChild I: Hey! You grabbed my nipple!

(giggles ensue from where the “adults” are sitting)

Mama: (trying to go for a serious voice & completely missing) Don’t grab you brother’s nipples.

(game falls apart shortly after that)

GirlChild: I’m getting out, you guys are ridiculous. (something she has been accusing BC I of since she was about 2-years-old) Mom, can I go back to the room?

Mama: Yes, hang up your swimsuit & towel.

Boy Child II: Look at meeee! (jumps in pool)

BoyChild I: Something sharp I stepped on.

Mama: You ok Yoda?

(giggles)

K-man: polo

BoyChild I: I don’t think I’m bleeding…

Mama: Yup, you’re fine.

RedBird: She going to go talk to her bf on the phone?

Mama: Probably, she’s still 14 and all.

K-man: Polo

RedBird: True, I remember that…

K-man: Polo

Mama: Think he’ll be yelling that all day?

RedBird: It’s better than the swearing…

Mama: True, true

BoyChild II: Who wants to see my ball?! (standing on side of pool)

(raucous laughter from boys)

Mama: What?

K-man: Polo

BoyChild II: My BALL! WHO WANTS TO SEE MY BALL?

Mama: Do you mean cannon ball?

(giggles from the “adult” section)

BoyChild II: That’s what I said. LOOK EVERYBODY! LOOK AT MY BALL!

(jumps into pool)

K-man: Polo

(the afternoon proceeds in this manner, with ice cream & re-sun screening breaks until supper)

One last random thing shouted throughout the afternoon in public:

My trunks are farting! Look see the bubbles?! (yay boys)

What ridiculous/embarrassing things have you or your kids shouted out in public recently?

Hydration Information Part 2: (the how)

As promised earlier, this is the how of hydration, it was all too much for one post. (I’m really trying to cut back on epic informative posts…) Since we all know about water (or think we do) we will start there.  So heard the whole 8 glasses a day thing? Yeah right, since I can’t actually work in the potty I can’t do it. But Wait! It’s not 8 glasses of water! It’s fluid. Yeah, you know, the liquid in almost everything you consume during the day, that’s what keeps you hydrated, under normal circumstances. I found this really cool water needs calculator. I tried it and these are my results:

My regular day answer:

73 ounces of water today, or 2.2 liters.

If you eat a healthy diet, about 20 percent of your water may come from the foods you eat.

If you divide it up, I need about 7 glasses of water (or fluids) per day. Guess what? Coffee counts! (Score) Now, not as good as say water, or milk, or juice, but it totally counts! That’s right, it’s not a type-o, milk is a great rehydrater!

*Keep in mind that we are talking kids and adults here, for babies it depends on age and what your doctor says*

Those folks at the Mayo clinic have this to say regarding milk:

Milk offers both carbohydrate (lactose) and protein (whey and casein). When compared to sports drinks, low-fat milk, plain or chocolate, was equivalent or better for fueling, repairing and building muscle. The results were especially impressive when milk was used as a recovery or post-exercise beverage.

Brace yourself, I have to say it… Yup Milk totally does a body good! Ok, I’ll move on now. They also have recommendation for a homemade sports drink here.

Fact:

Water is an obvious source for your daily fluid needs. Other good beverages include milk, herbal teas, low-sodium broth, 100-percent fruit and vegetable juices. Soft drinks will also count toward your daily total of fluid, just remember that sugar sweetened soft drinks and fruit juices add extra calories to you daily diet that you don’t need.

The familyfitness site adds:

You’ve probably heard the oft-repeated advice that you should drink 8 cups of water every day. Does the same rule apply to children? Yes and no. According to the Institute of Medicine (a division of the National Academy of Sciences, charged with advising the nation on health topics), most adults get all the liquids they need every day just by eating and drinking normally—with meals, and when they are thirsty. Any beverages, including caffeinated ones, count toward the daily fluid intake your body needs (which is closer to 10 cups than 8, by the way). Food, especially fruits and vegetables, contains water too.

Kids under 8 years old need a little less fluid than adults, but the advice is the same—they should drink healthy beverages with meals, plus sip water any time they are thirsty. Of course, if they are playing or exercising vigorously, or if it’s very hot outside, they’ll need more liquids to make up for what their bodies are losing to perspiration.

There we go with those electrolytes again, that the more than fluids that we need when we are in the hot, humid summer sun. This was a great chart (yay chart) for what foods have electrolytes in them naturally (aka the best way to get anything).

So if water is best, why not just guzzle the stuff, right? I like water, my kids like water, it is the best tasting thing in the world at times. Well there are a few things to keep in mind:

There are some times when drinking too much water can be a problem:

    1. If  you have any kidney or adrenal problems, or your doctor has you taking diuretics, you need to consult with your doctor about how much water to drink each day
    2. Don’t drink all the water you need per day all at once. Divide the amount you need and drink several glasses of water throughout the day. This is especially important if you engage in lots of heavy exercise.
    3. Infants should be given only formula or breast milk unless your pediatrician tells you otherwise.
    4. Too much water, without also replacing your electrolytes, (balance people) will not keep you from being dehydrated, or save you from symptoms such as      headaches, nausea, dizziness, and exhaustion.

Aargh! Something else to keep up with! No, calm down, it’s not as hard as it sounds. Now for some ideas! (yay solutions)

    1. Water with a snack (try bananas, think potassium) is perfect for the afternoon in the park.
    2. Milk, nice cold milk, has electrolytes in it already!
    3. Flavored water. (try glass of water & 1 squirt of lemon juice-like RealLemon,you’ve seen it)
    4. Any snack that combines salt, fluid, sugar and protein is pretty much golden. (think apples and peanut butter)

Now we all know there are other solutions, the first one that comes to mind for most people is Sports Drinks. Keep this from familyfitness in mind:

Sports drinks: Generally, avoid these since they add calories and sugar, but few nutrients, to your child’s diet. But if he’s exercising vigorously and prefers sports drinks to water, let him drink up—it’s more important that he stays hydrated. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends 4 to 6 ounces of fluid every 15 minutes for a 90-pound child while he’s exercising. The AAP also suggests weighing your child before and after he exercises so you can see how much fluid he lost—then you’ll know how much he needs to replace during future workouts.

Now, that’s vigorous exercise. That is not regular play in the backyard. (Even down here on the 98 degree 98% humidity day) For those days, the best thing you can do is provide fun, in their face hydration. Wait, what? I heard you, I have a giant spouted cooler that comes out in about May and lives on the kitchen counter (where any child over the age of one can get to-I know I’m a brave lady) until about September. In their face, means they don’t get so distracted they are dropping like flies out there. I keep it full (and clean) of liquid that won’t spoil before my kids drink it (about 3 to 4 days). Do you have any idea what I’m talking about? Who remembers this guy?

Now before someone takes away my Mom card, I don’t follow the package directions, I use waaay more water and 3/4 cup instead of 1 cup per packet for an entire 2 gallon container. (If they’ve never had Kool-aid made “the right way” they don’t know wahahaha-sorry, evil mommy got out for a sec…) I have caught these kids sitting in the floor with mouths open while another sibling flips the spout. (It’s all about team work) Sometimes I get all fancy and make Country Time in it (my personal fav-if you add actual lemon juice to it it’ll taste less like candy and more like the real thing, but will still keep on that counter).  Why the hell do I need to keep it on my counter? #1 there isn’t room in my fridge for a one gallon container, much less this behemoth; #2 on the counter they can drink all day long, without the refrigerator constantly being open (a habit I discourage) #3 It’s a novel, fun, summer-only thing for my kids, getting out that damn container is the equivalent of kick starting summer as far as they are concerned.

*Now here’s a little disclaimer: I do NOT care if you don’t follow my “beverage rules”, please do not misunderstand what I’m about to say, I said it before, in my house I make my rules, you get to for your house & God Bless, cause I only want to be in charge of this zoo, Thankyouverymuch! 😉 *

These kids don’t drink soda (including the 14-year-old) other than the occasional sip of Gingerale when someone has been vomiting for awhile. They don’t drink “juice beverages”, only 100% here, and not tons of that. They do not drink any caffeinated beverages (unless there is extreme cold and I’m serving hot cocoa)at all. We drink water, herbal teas, milk, and occasional 100% juice year round. Which is why the Kool-aid/Country Time container is so popular around here. It does have rules, there is no meal-appropriate beverage in there, but the kids seem to accept that, and they know if you guzzle that all day Mom will cut you off and you will have to wait till your siblings (with tortuous slowness) finish the container and Mom washes and then refills before you are off of water only.

Other cool ways to incorporate hydration into your summer:

    1. Get cool bottles (your kids can pick them out, I promise, if you are reading this you aren’t cool enough to do it, it’s totally ok, me neither) to put water,  juice, whatever the hell in.
    2. Freeze juice boxes/pouches before you leave. Shlushies!!
    3. Make “popsicles” from juice
    4. Splash any fruit juice into your regular bottle for a special treat.
    5. Frozen bananas,  get crazy & dip them in chocolate…
    6. Frozen watermelon.
    7. Make Yogurt  Smoothies to go!

What other ideas do you have? What is your summer hydration plan like? Let me know. Stay Safe & have fun! 🙂

Noah, Gilgamesh, and Mama

Wish we had had one of these...So I have to start with a brief apology to everyone who had gotten in the habit of checking in here on a daily basis. Sorry all things have been a bit busy this last week and a half, but are starting to calm down now.

Now, you are probably wondering what’s up with the title? What could you possibly have to do with those two men? Oh, I will tell you a tale, my friends, a tale of family, animals (well, one animal) and a great flood…

Monday started off with us checking out of the hotel, gassing up and hitting the road towards home. Two hours later we start talking about how tired we all are, how much fun we had, and how much each of us just wanted to vegg in his or her own way once we got home. I remind everyone as we pulled up to the house to grab things from the car as they get out so that we will have fewer trips (you know the whole let’s get it done, guys so we can all relax mom speech). We come to the back door and I unlock it and step inside. It is hot! I remember thinking, wow It’s so much cooler outside than in here, that’s weird, as I walked towards the stairs to up stairs to unload things.

I have to take a brief pause here to describe the layout of our house (it’ll be important soon I promise). Our house is one of those 2 story deals built into the side of a rolling hill. If you come in the front door you come in what appears to be the first floor of a ranch house, you are actually entering the second floor. From the back door you enter the first floor of the house which is half buried into a hill. Needless to say this downstairs is very well insulated. So upstairs in our multifamily home is the kitchen, a living room, a hall, bathrooms, and bedrooms. Downstairs is a large family/game room, an office, bathroom, laundry room and another bedroom. Got it? Now back to the noticeably hotter than outside downstairs…

I get to the door to the stairs and see white mist-like substance coming from under the door. I turn and yell, “Get out! I think there’s a fire! Go straight back to the car! I am going to see if I can get Charlie out.” You remember Charlie, right? He was my nemesis in Caring for the Elderly… Dogs That is. Well if everyone is out-of-town he gets shut in the kitchen (to reduce the mess) before anyone gets all fired up, we all left at staggered times and he was alone for about 24 hours with plenty of both water (spoiler alert-lol) and food. So I touch the door with the back of my hand (I totally remember Stop Drop and Roll week in Kindergarten) and it’s not really warmer than the air in the den so I open the door and look up the stairs.

Water is streaming over the rail at the floor to the kitchen, down the wall, onto the stairs! I look to the top of the stairs and realize I can’t see the wall at the top of the stairs because of the steam! I look lower to the floor at the top of the stairs, and there he is the infamous Charlie, laying in about 2 inch deep water, his pitiful head against the wall propped out of the water. (I tell you I have never felt sorrier for any animal in my entire life than I did for Charlie, who I have never felt the slightest bit of sorry for until that afternoon) I run up the stairs and grab him, lift and run him downstairs where he can get out the still open back door. I run back upstairs and through the very foggy kitchen. I realize about halfway across the kitchen that this ankle-deep water is hot (I had a blister or two that I noticed later) and go to the sink and shut off the hot water valve on the pipe under the sink. I slosh to the windows and start opening all the windows on my way to the front door which I also leave open on my way to tell the kids it’s not a fire, it’s a flood.

The steam upstairs was so thick I couldn’t see across the kitchen, so we all sat outside and waited a minute. I made calls to let people know what I found (I left messages as no one was answering) and then go back in the house to asses the damages. The steam had cleared a little so I (mostly out of morbid curiosity ) checked the thermostat, 92 degrees inside by the way. I continue to open other windows in rooms as I walk around. I go back through the kitchen and down the stairs, mentally making a list as I go. Things like, squish, carpet wet, that door is swollen shut, hm, that one is swollen open, squish, wow this water is hot, the ceiling is dripping from every where, the smoke detector is black, probably blown a fuse, better not turn on any lights, it’s raining in this room too, and so on, throughout the house.

I went back outside and around the house to answer the phone and give descriptions to people who were then on their way home. I sit in the driveway with the kids for a minute waiting for more steam to escape before I hop up and say, “Right, so we should start cleaning up” I cannot even describe to you the faces I got when I said that in my perky I want you to think I want to do this horrible thing so that you will want to do it as well voice. (It just occurred to me- I should rename that voice my Tom Sawyer voice, hmm note to self) So in my Tom Sawyer voice I led the troops back in through the front door to start gathering all the beach towels in the house & bring them to the kitchen with the little we are a family and families pull in together and help out however they can whenever they can speech I usually give to the chores dissenters when they voice their displeasure with dishes and toilet cleaning.

We got the towels assembled and set up our own little assembly line. I and GirlChild mopped up water with towels, BoyChild II gathered full of water towels and brought them to BoyChild I who rang them out in the kitchen sink and then passed them back to his brother who brought them to whichever of us in the floor had a full towel to take back to the sink. We worked like that steady for about an hour and do you know, not only was the kitchen floor dry, but other than the initial protests there were no other complaints?! (a very proud moment for me of my kids) We all clean ourselves up and find dry spots to crash while we wait for the others (who can call the insurance company) to get home.

I spent the next several days working my fanny off (as did those kids-sniff-what troopers) cleaning, moving, and attempting to salvage the contents of our house. So no, I wasn’t blogging (or even going to my day job for 3 days) but we all worked hard fighting a flood, banding together as a family, and rescuing an animal along the way. Yup that’s my flood story. Oh, and the kid’s Spring Break. How did you spend your Spring Break?

 

I have been asked to add a status of house clarification, so people don’t worry. There are at this moment no stairs or floors, few walls and no downstairs ceiling. All of these things had to be gutted. The insurance company has been very helpful and the deconstruction crew has been awesome as well (if all ends well I will post company contact info in the comments here for anyone who wants to know). We are all in 2 adjacent hotel suites, so not homeless. There are dehumidifiers in our house still so reconstruction is nowhere near about to start. Charlie is fine BTW- that old dude is gonna outlast all of us I think. I think that about covers it for now, I will do better at keeping everyone updated with the situation as it progresses.

Road Trip!

So today after I got off work we embarked on a road trip to spend a long weekend with extended family. It was 2 1/2 hours in the car with 3 kiddos & me. We are now sitting on beds in a hotel room eating popcorn and watching movies before we all pass out. But that’s not what prompted me to turn on the laptop. As we were driving down the road eating junk food and singing along with the stereo it occurred to me I should make a list of the ridiculous things that were heard in my SUV as we drove through the North Carolina countryside. (for the purposes of this blog we will be using people’s initials instead of standard pseudonyms)

So in no particular order enjoy our silly:

  • W! Move your face!
  • Look! Stripped cows!
  • Dude, a town called Sims!?
  • Whoa check out all the bug guts on the windshield, duuude.
  • This reminds me of that movie Jeepers Creepers.
  • F@$%&! We forgot E’s meds!
  • Is THIS the hotel!? No that’s a barn.
  • Is this the hotel? No that’s a fire station.
  • Is this the hotel? NO W this is McDonald’s!
  • Are we staying at McDonald’s? No we are staying in a hotel.
  • Mooom. Make E stop picking his toes.
  • That cloud looks like Santa on a sleigh with glasses.
  • I think E is hogging all the chips.
  • What is our car exploded right here and we had to walk and someone got struck by lightning and then we had to carry them but they got heavy so we had to drag them down the road and a car came and almost ran us all over? (this was actually said in one breath)

 

Lol Ahh good times, good times. Hallmark movie stuff…

 

Enjoy your weekend!