Wednesday, September 19, 2007

With or without a moral

Yesterday I should have felt pretty smug about all the wonderful outdoor playtime the ducklings had been having, after a weekend of picnics and reunions. It certainly compared well with my mental personification of the Modern Mothers whose children spend endless hours watching television or running from one class to another. It even compared well to our own July and August of hiding out in the basement.

Alas, yesterday was also the day I read a whole blog carnival inspired by Charlotte Mason's teaching on young children, and suddenly found myself face to face with a new mental personification of Nature Mothers who rearranged their whole lives to give their small children four to six hours outside in exotic settings (not mere playgrounds and backyards!) every fine day. I have tried, I really have, but somehow I can't figure out how to make that happen and still get supper on the table. And it's a long walk to any exotic settings from here.

There we all were, sitting inside on a beautiful sunny afternoon. We had gone to the park in the morning, but that was not even two hours. D2 was sitting on a pile of things on the loveseat, singing his way through The Wheels on the Bus. D1 was sitting on a pile of things on the piano bench, playing and singing a song of her own composition. I was sitting at the computer, contemplating my inadequacy. Supper was at a place where I could turn it off for awhile.

"Let's go outside," I said.

They were not overeager, but neither were they distressed. They do like to go outside. We coated ourself with the plate mail necessary to visit our yard without getting mosquito bites.

I stepped outside and realized I had made a mistake. It was past my temperature limit. All life drained out of me. I sat down on the front steps--the hottest place around, but also the only seat--and told them they would have to amuse themselves.

The proper activity for late afternoon excursions is riding bikes. D2 rode his little four-wheeler blissfully, swooping down the driveway and then planting both feet down for brakes just as he reached the sidewalk so that he wouldn't shoot out into the road. D1 wanted to ride her bike, but the trouble is she can't ride her bike, at least not pushing the pedals properly, and if I refused to help her life would be an unbearable wasteland of misery, which it continued to be for some time.

Then they both got distracted from bikes and tried to pull the wagon. This required more cooperation than they were capable of at the time. Soon they were howling for the benefit of all the neighbors.

It was time to finish supper anyway, so I took them back inside. Their former occupations attracted them not at all. Their howls continued for various reasons at increasing decibels until they were smothered in spaghetti sauce.

So pick a moral:
1. Do not pursue activities based on guilt and comparisons.
2. Do not go outside when it's too hot for you to stand it.
3. The last hour before dinner is bound to be miserable no matter what you do.

Today we went to the park in the morning when it was cool and had a lovely time. This afternoon they are happily piling things inside.


the Joneses said...

From comments I've heard from Sara over the last 7 years, I would vote for Moral 3.


Rose said...

I'll go with all three morals. Things which no one really wants to do, but which we think we should be doing because it's the thing to do, tend to backfire badly.

Eric and Wendy said...

Ouch! I have been there done that and maybe doing it tomorrow. I am going to try taking all 6 to the zoo since Oob can now go in the double stroller and I haven't taken them all anywhere (by myself) besides shopping and church in the 4 months since Oob was born. That's really much too long to go without public humiliation.

I'll go with the: Never disturb a happy (or sleeping) child!

the Joneses said...

Moral #1 is the enemy.

Darren once called me from work to read the blog post of a homeschooling mom of eight. The point of the article is that there's this demoralizing siren song in mothers' heads singing, "You could be doing better!" I'm always having to tune out The Siren Song, especially when I've actually done something I'm pleased with.

As he remarked above, however, Moral #3 is pretty potent also.

-- SJ