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But who’s counting? January 6, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — Noelle Bickle / Abby Brooks @ 8:38 AM

One more weekday, then the weekend – that’s all I have to get through before life goes back to normal. Two weeks of kidlets home with me has taken a toll, I’m not gonna lie. With one official day left in the “off-school days”, we’re well past having friendly family fun. We’re just trying to keep off each other’s last nerve. It didn’t help that we all had a sluggish round of whatever this nasty flu-thing is that went around for the last few weeks. It made us cranky and kept us from doing much visiting with friends, family, or even people outside the house.

We all pulled it together this afternoon and made our way to Barrie for dinner and then Retro-planet for a night out. It was the first time we had been in the van all week. Not that our feet hadn’t touched the snow – but our tires hadn’t moved off tread marks left there from 2011. Sincerely. We’ve been hibernating, and like all bears coming back into the civilized world – we were a little overwhelmed.

Dinner worked out okay – but who can complain when you’re stuffing your gob with Mucho Burrito? But by the time we hit the parking lot of Retro-planet the kids were at odds. This is one of those Chuck. E. Cheese type places with an arcade and laser tag and glow in the dark putt-putt, and it tops my daughter’s list of favourite places to go. My son on the other hand is heading into those teen years where kids screaming and games ringing and people putt-putting is sort of lame-o.

So she can’t wait to get in there and asks if we can stay till midnight. My son wants to be home by 7:00 (and it’s already 7:25). He doesn’t want to play the redemption games and won’t even take a token from the little plastic cup. For those of you who haven’t gotten sucked into the Chuck-culture – you play the game for a token or two, it spits out a few tickets, you feed the tickets into a machine that spits out a slip with your ticket total on it, and then you trade that in for crappy penny toys. Essentially you spend $20 on tokens to get 75 cents of plastic crap or a pixie stick to sugar the kids up for the ride home. All this among many other families with many other fighting siblings and kids jacked up on sugar and stimulation. It’s joyous, really. I get why my son – who is as laid back as an old weather-beaten summer chaise – is growing to despise this type of scene. But still – its family fun night, we haven’t left the house all week – suck it up buttercup and play the damn arcade game.

By the time I talk him into a game of air hockey with me, things are looking up. He forgets he hates the place and decides to focus on the game after I score once on him –  after all, he doesn’t want to get sunk by his mom. (Now that would be lame-o).  So things are going along great until my daughter comes over and wants to join in, which I think is sweet. We watch them play and get along. How nice – isn’t it nice? Life is good. I even get a chance to hug my hubby and challenge him to a water-shooting game. By the time I’ve beat him and am gloating about my nine tickets spat out over his measly three –all  hell had broken loose with the kids. Sam pulverized Lainey in the game – something like 12-2 and she brought the game to a close by “passing” him the puck by picking up and tossing (by her account) or whipping (by his account) the puck. Either way – it hit his finger and caused life threatening injuries to the end of his fingernail. My daughter is a terrible sore loser, and my son is a skilled milker. Combined, it makes for drama.

I ask you this, dear  readers –  can you imagine going to a cool place like that when you were young and acting like such little ingrates?  My parents wouldn’t have stood for it. At least I don’t think they would have, but we didn’t have places like Retro- planet to fight in. When I was a kid, it was a big deal to head to the Ponderosa once in a blue moon and make your way up the cafeteria line for a slab of steak. There was no midway games or other forms of fun for kids there – no – you just ate your dinner somewhere other than your kitchen table at home. Heck – my dad wouldn’t even let me get away with pocketing one of the “diamonds” from the gardens in front of the restaurant. He would have turned that darn bus around and headed home rather than have me steal a simple rock from the family steakhouse. And I didn’t argue about it. I sucked it up, emptied the 42 pieces of limestone from my jeans pockets, and headed inside for some cafeteria meat. And all the while I still felt blessed because we were out on the town. How have things gone so far off the mark?

My mother reads this blog, so maybe I’ll stand to be corrected. Maybe we did fight in public and act like selfish and rude, but I don’t recall it being like that. I really don’t. But then, I was a perfect child, so that might explain it.

The good news is – the kids had to go to bed as soon as we got home, which meant I got some time to myself to read, to write, and to breathe. I guess the night worked out after all. One more weekday, then the weekend. But who’s counting?

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13 Responses to “But who’s counting?”

  1. Phil Dwyer Says:

    All things are relative. When my kids really were kids I read Laura Ingalls’ Little House books to them, in part because I thought it might help them appreciate all that they had. There is one passage which describes a Christmas where the girls get 1) a tin cup and 2) and orange for Christmas. And they are overjoyed by their haul. A tin cup AND and orange. Neither Ben nor Tim was impressed. And it didn’t stop them wanting the latest SuperNintendo games in their stockings. I’m convinced kids don’t have actual souls (just some chewed up gum, mixed with some old string and hair balls, where their soul should be – I once stood at the top of a large glaciated valley in the Dordogne in France, watching the buzzards circling hundreds of feet below us, breathless. Ben turned to me after about 30 seconds and said “this is boring. When are we going?”)
    Still, they both grew up to be balanced, caring people. I’m proud of them.
    Keep plugging away Noelle. They’ll remember the lessons you’re teaching them now for the rest of their lives, and one day those lessons will replace the chewed up gum, old string and hair balls.

    • Sometimes the only thing that keeps me from going postal from the antics of my kids is the fact that my 25-year old daughter is a warm, loving, generous, and kind-hearted person – like you with your children, I can say with sincerity that I am proud of who she is – so I must have done something right. It’s also convenient that my husband is daddy to my youngest two, but not my oldest. That way, if things look bad I can just blame it on his parenting. 🙂

    • Dale Long Says:

      Wow! Well said Phil! LOVE the “chewed up gum”.

  2. Lisa Llamrei Says:

    LOL. I just came back from three days, two nights at Great Wolf Lodge so can totally relate to this. However, my children no longer get into the big drama fights in public – why?? Because Decara, at 14, is way too cool to even join in the family fun. She spent most of the time in the hotel room with her laptop (the lodge has free wi-fi) chatting with all her friends on Facebook. We did do the flashing lights, noisy arcade thing several times while we were there, though. I am now spending a whole day doing nothing just to recuperate from it all. When did I get so old that I needed a day to recuperate?

    Since my Mom doesn’t read your blog, and I therefore have zero chance of being corrected, I can say definitely that there is no way my sister and I would have behaved that way in public ever.

    • LOL…my mom “liked” this post without comment, which means she is sparing me the public lashing. Truth be told, I know I was a handful when I was a youngin’ but I don’t remember fighting in public with my sister – ever.

      GWL – oy. My kids love that place as much as I loathe it. Do you have a massive headache? It’s constant noise there. Give me a quiet house in the county anyday!

  3. Dale Long Says:

    I’m with Lisa. My mom’s saying was that if your kids were “piggies at home and puppies abroad”, you’ve done something right.

    Yes I’ve been to the dreaded Chuckie Cheeze. It’s a casino for kids. I guess , like Phil said, when they’re young, kids primary programming is to test the bounds. See what they can get away with. When they grow up, these lessons are finally absorbed and with any kind of luck, a well balance adult emerges.

    So for now, be happy with your caterpillars.

  4. So two grandmas (me and an “inlaw” grandma) took two grandsons to a movie. But before the movie, we had to do a tour of the video arcade.

    The kids squirmed while the grandmas got an uninterested attendant to explain the money/ticket exchange (grab and swallow) and the enticing redemption awards (pathetic).

    Finally we unleashed the monsters and they darted away from us like we’d just farted out loud. The grandmas decided to divide and conquer, so I found myself with the 7-year-old straddling a motorcycle that, once started, took 30 seconds to expire with no points because the kid (and I) had no idea what he was to do with it. I think the thing must be there for bored fathers to use while the kids go around to lame mechanical noisemakers that spew out reels of tickets.

    The two grandmas had a $20 limit each, so once that was gone, the kids selected crappy trinkets and we went to the concession stand to bulk up before the movie. Don’t get me started on the concession stand. When movie-going for four costs $100.00, it’s no wonder theaters are dying. The oversized bags of popcorn, the weird plastic chewables and giant drinks mostly made their way to the garbage bins at the end of the movie.

    What was especially disappointing was the sense that it was no big deal to the kids. This was a treat, that wasn’t treat enough to engender excited thank yous. Parents and grandparents look like money machines to them. No one seems to be teaching them to value savings, and respect the pockets of their elders.

    Noelle, thanks for the opportunity to get that off my chest. I loved reading about your experience, and I took my kids to Ponderosa too. Checkered cloths, long wooden trestle tables, a make-your-own-salad bar, a steak I didn’t have to cook – Mum’s treat. And inexpensive compared with the entertainment bonanza to keep kids in place today. Heaven forbid they have a moment that is not filled with “stimulation.” They might have to talk to us.

    • Funny you should mention about the lack of appreciation. My husband and I talked about that recently – but I think outings are so common that they hardly know they should appreciate it. We went out for dinner very seldom when I was growing up. In fact, we hardly ate processed food. My mom is a wonderful cook, and was always into healthy living – so we were the kids with carrot sticks for snacks and homemade granola for breakfast. Now kids don’t think getting sugar cereal is a treat – it’s just no big deal. There’s a reason I remember honeycombs and sugar puffs from childhood – it’s not because I always had them, but always wanted them. Big difference, right?

  5. Annie Says:

    I think what keeps all these long holidays in perspective is that there is an end in sight. They start out with the best intentions but kids know how to push buttons…and let’s face it, moms get tired and rarely get to become a sloth for a day. Glad you survived!

    • Pushing buttons is the job kids have…passed down for generations for what we did to our parents, and what they did to theirs. Right of passage. But…it was a lot more fun on the giving end than the getting end! Happy New Year!

  6. Nobody…NOBODY has ever pushed my buttons like my kids do. Now that they’re older, well it just means they have much more sophisticated and clever ways to push my buttons.

    I can remember the time our family of four as well as two other families of four thought it would be a great idea for the twelve of us to go to Pizza Hut (with the amount of grease that floated on those pies, really, Jabba the Hut would have been the more appropriate name). Bear in mind, at this point, my son is about four.

    All through dinner, my son, and the four-year-old son of one of the other families just seemed to egg each other to greater depths of misbehaviour. And I found new levels of anger to match. After a full hour of this, I’d had it. I won’t try and make any excuses for my behaviour or what I said, but I will say I’ve never said anything so awful before or since to my children. Wrong place, wrong time, temporary insanity is my only defense, your honour.

    Anyway, by this point, we were trying to leave. My son (egged on, naturally, by the other spawn of Satan) was under the table and refusing to come out and put his coat on. His heels dug in, my teeth on edge, I finally bent down and–I’m sure at this point my eyes were rolled back in my head and I was frothing at the mouth–I said, “Get your butt out here or so help me to God I’m gonna stick a fork in your forehead!”

    As I said, terrible thing to say, and no excuses. But it was his response that shut everyone down.

    “Aw, dad, I HATE when you do that!”

    And with that, our entire group and half the tables around us cracked up.

    Kids.

    • OMG! I love this. And I have to say, with sliver tongued parents like you and Karen, it’s only fair that you get a son who can give it right back. What a great laugh, Tobin. Kids do give us great material at the very least


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