Tuesday, January 26, 2010

And That's Why They Watch TV

"I don't believe in a no win scenario." --James T. Kirk.
Captain Kirk never was a Mom.  --me. 

My children can tell when I'm in one of these moods, when all screens are evil. I'll announce that I've changed the pass codes to all the televisions and disconnected the Wi-Fi except to my own laptop which has a password none of them know. In my zealous madness, I hide the remotes and batteries separately and have been known to unplug all the machines as well so that there is defense in depth against children getting to vegetate before a TV, computer or video game.

"Outside! or Homework! or Practice!" A choice of three very different hells born of boredom awaits my offspring. The older ones groan and take their pick, usually opting to get the school stuff out of the way, hoping to pacify my need to crack down with dutifulness. It's been known to work. Middles try to extract bargains. These get shot down but it does give them more stall time on starting their assignments.

Mom's dictatorial ruthless outlawing of all things on Cable, DVD's, Wii and DS never lasts long. It would be even shorter lived if those kids paid attention to the ones calling all the shots, the toddlers.

It was a warm winter day, the kind made for bike riding, for discovering the outdoors when there are no bugs and it isn't so unpleasant that you need gloves. Unloading from school, the olders scurried in for snacks but the 2nd, K and younger set pulled out the scooter and the trikes and the bikes and started drawing a road for traffic patterns.

Pleased as I unloaded the baby that they were using their imaginations and exercising and being outdoors, I smiled, filled with the pseudo virtue that comes from being a Mom, catching your kids doing something good, and having had nothing to do with it whatsoever. Inside the house, I started fixing snack. I wouldn't call them in I decided, I didn't want to interrupt the fun. That would be mean.
I fed the baby. I heard a few sounds of happy laughter. Silly laughter. By this point, my mom radar should have registered “check,” but I was still trying to pretend I was offhanded and relaxed, to bask in the coolness of having four kids outside playing, four inside doing homework, and a happy 15 month old working on solid foods.

Thwack! Slurp. It sounded like something was thrown. It sounded like something mushy hit something. More giggles. Thwack! Thwack! Slump. SLump. SLump. "WOW!" "MOMMMMM."

Racing and already knowing I'm too late, my son comes in, his white shirt doing a splendid imitation of a Dalmatian. He is covered, speckled with mud. His two sisters come after him, happy and semi-horrified respectively. They too are caked from the knees down. Squelch. Squelch. Squelch. My van is also spackled with mud balls.

A child is still playing. "WHAT ARE YOU DOING?" I try to just have volume, not irritation. It isn't very convincing.

"I'm making mud soup. Just like in that book." She explains. She is forking a giant puddle of mud with a large stick, stirring it to make even more.

"You're a mess."

"Oh. Does this mean I have to come inside?"

Three showers, a carwash and four loads of laundry later, exhausted, I handed my daughter the remote. "Dora the Explorer is on, channel 56. The code is 1441."

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