Monthly Archives: March 2010

Child’s Play

(This post describes an event of 2009, as I fondly recall my children’s spring break/Easter holiday)…

Listen closely. That’s the sound of relief. A shameless sigh. A groan of gratitude. A wanton release of the pent up frustration I’ve felt as a mother ever since Frick and Frack (i.e. my wily second graders) made landfall for what seemed perpetuity. In truth, their recent spring break/Easter holiday lasted a mere seven days, but somehow it was suggestive of so much more.

Nevertheless, I survived and all is well. Routine has returned to this good house. Bedtimes and baths have been reinstated. A modicum of order has been restored. And much of my sanity, reclaimed. But even still, I stumble upon remnants of my children’s ever-widening sphere of influence—remnants for which I have been given specific instructions. “Don’t. Move. Anything. Mom.” The anything, of course, includes Easter baskets and eggs, Legos and Lincoln Logs, dominoes and dinosaurs, puzzles and Polly Pockets, Barbies and board games among other infinitely intrusive playthings that currently festoon my home. “We’re still playing with them.” It would also be inclusive of the masterfully created eggshell-soapsuds-coffee-cocoa-flour-splash-of-vanilla mixture (i.e. “our serious soup”) brewed in the kitchen sink during that infamous respite from the Land of Books and Pencils. Gak.

That said, in an extraordinarily weak moment I entered into an agreement with my daughters some time ago—one engineered specifically for the purpose of addressing the many and varied complaints I’ve voiced that involve their beloved toys and my complete and impassioned hatred of clutter. A binding-ish contract that also loosely defines the term “still” so that an obscene degree of latitude is then granted to the parties affected. More specifically, my charges could be asleep, on the soccer field, in the classroom or outside foraging for worms while technically described as “still playing” with whatever foolish tripe happens to be in the middle of my living room or sloshing around in the sink. So there it remains. Ad nauseam. Arrrrrg.

There is an upside, however. A bright side to my disaster-in-the-making. For seven glorious days and nights I was assigned a role other than Homework Nazi, Nag Queen and Merriment Wrecker—whose collective mission in life is to snuff out goodness and joy at every turn. Instead, I let my soon-to-be third graders lounge in PJ’s by day and linger outside in the dusk, long after the robins had disappeared into the thicket, dark and damp with approaching nightfall. I watched them dig in the dirt, climb trees and chase each other around in the cool grass, swords held high, exultant shouts filling the air. I tossed wiffle ball after wiffle ball until we could no longer track its blurred path and instead listened for the telltale crack of the bat and the familiar whir of the ball, reminding me of the vestiges of summer when we raced around the yard at sundown, deep into September, finally tucking away those precious bits of plastic in a corner of the garage—the place where they would winter seemingly forever.

What’s more, I spent some quality time indoors with my brood, allowing myself to become immersed within their imaginary world for a few delicious moments each day. Just for fun I assisted in the construction of countless works of genius (i.e. log homes with ramshackle roofs and rickety foundations). I learned the ins and outs of kid-logic for games like Guess Who and Concentration. Further, I eavesdropped on utterly priceless conversations featuring Littlest Pet Shop “people,” various stuffed animals and the sprawling harem of Barbies and Bratz dolls who reside here. Of course, this took me back to a time when my oldest made her shampoo bottles “talk” at the edge of the tub till her seemingly endless chatter dwindled, the water lost its warmth and her fingers and toes had grown whitish and wrinkled. Likewise, it made me smile to think the aforementioned dolls held similar discussions roughly 15 years ago, although no one had so much as envisioned those tawdry Bratz doll beasts. Perhaps it’s just as well.

Looking back on the week, I’m not so sure the death of structure was such a bad thing. There is something to be said for a less-than-jammed-to-the-hilt schedule, for a dearth of all-things-schoolish and for play that is free of boundaries and rife with spontaneity. Lounging around in PJ’s all day of course has its merit, too, giving rise to yet another great sigh of relief from this camp.

Planet Mom: It’s where I live. Visit me there at

Copyright 2009 Melinda L. Wentzel

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Filed under Daily Chaos, Holiday Hokum, Mushy Stuff

And the Snow Gods Laughed

Enough already with the snow days. I’ve certainly had my fill of time home with the heathens. That being said, I think school cancellations fall under the Law of Diminishing Returns—the more I experience, the less enamored with them I become.

Further, they embody the spirit of my slightly twisted adage, “Too much of a good thing (like parent-child togetherness) can be horrible when it involves entertainment-starved youth and a dearth of all-things-entertaining.” Okay, so maybe I need a refresher course on keeping boredom at bay for the eight-and-under set. (Note to self: Read 1,001 Things You and Your Kids Can Create with Pipe Cleaners and Modeling Clay! And after that, peruse the finer points of Embrace Cabin Fever, or Die!).

In all honesty, the first few days off from school with my children were wonderful—a welcome reprieve from our harried morning schedule. There were little or no discussions surrounding the topic of dawdling. No ogre-ish threats were made involving the consequences of missing the bus. No battles over the wearing of hats took center stage “…because I hate hats, Mom!” No one even checked to see if teeth or hair had been brushed, or that pajamas had been removed and subsequently replaced with suitable attire. Nor did anyone care. School was closed for the day and the gift of time—a sacred offering from the snow gods—had been bestowed upon us all. Liberated for one calendar day. I guess it’s much like I felt as a youngster—free to squeeze as much goodness out of a 24-hour period as was humanly possible.

Back then the joy didn’t wait for the official announcement to be made. Indeed, it arrived in earnest the night before a possible school cancellation. Like scores of goofy kids, my brother and I planted ourselves at a windowsill, anxiously scanned the starry skies for the suggestion of a snow flurry and clung to the hope that we would, in fact, receive the monstrosity of precipitation that had been forecast—as if we could will it to happen.

More recently, however, I’ve become obsessed with the Weather Channel and with local news stations that promise up-to-the-minute reports of closings. At an ungodly hour I stumble out of bed and glue my sorry face to the television screen, bathed in the blue-white glow that fills the entire bedroom. I do this because I lack both the initiative and the wisdom to fetch my glasses first. I then inch my snoot from left to right and back again, eye-to-eye with that stupid scroll thingy at the bottom of the screen—living in fear that I’ll somehow miss the L’s entirely. Translation: If that were to happen, I’d spend literally MINUTES in pure agony, oblivious as to whether or not I could skip the dreaded rousing-of-the-bleary-eyed-beasts-out-of-bed routine. A chore I loathe to the pithy core of my being.

But enough is enough. My charges have missed far too many days of school during this pitiful portrayal of winter. Besides, I think my kids would rather be there than home with me anyway. Perhaps it’s because I’m a pathetic parent and find it a supreme challenge to keep them content and actively engaged for any length of time (i.e. not at each other’s throats or leaping with glee upon my last nerve). Maybe it’s simply because they’re too young to fully appreciate the grand and glorious wonderment that a snow day possesses. They’re still completely smitten with the world of academia and, in fact, mourn the days when they cannot be with their teachers and friends, for whom they hold more adoration than for the sun and moon put together.

They’d never dream of actually wishing for a snow day. Ah, but that time will soon come and I’ll find them perched at a windowsill anxiously awaiting that which the weatherman hath promised.

Planet Mom: It’s where I live. Visit me there at

Copyright 2008 Melinda L. Wentzel

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Filed under Daily Chaos, Rantings & Ravings, Uncategorized