NAMB: My kid can be boring (and I bet yours can too)

20 Aug

“Sweetie, mommy has no flippin’ clue how to recreate the scary snowman from Frozen.”

A few days ago we met up with some of P’s coworkers at a ballgame and concert (#summer4eva). One of them asked me, “so, no kid tonight? I thought you might bring him.”

“Nah,” I said. “He’s fun, but he’s not that fun.”

Cue awkward pause.

Putting aside the general pall of awkwardness that colors my daily life, I probably should have anticipated the reaction and come up with some more parent-appropriate response, such as “this is going past his bedtime,” or, “he doesn’t like crowds.”

I should have anticipated it, because I would have had the same reaction a few years ago. That is, before I had kids.

Let me disclaim. My love for my son is fierce. To paraphrase the words of somebody more intelligent than myself: he is my heart walking around outside my body. Not to mention, he’s a fascinating and entertaining individual in his own right. This morning he woke up pretending to be a dragon hatching out of an egg–literally no segue between deep sleep and surprisingly realistic dragon peeping. At a party last week, he cracked up the gang when he shot the bird with scary expertise and a deadpan look. He may or may not have known what that gesture meant (let’s hope not), but he certainly understood the value of making people laugh. Like I said, he’s interesting.

For a preschooler.

There’s this perception that once you become a parent, your children are the center of your world. They’re more than that, they’re your reason for being. I postulate that that’s part of the reason so many adults are putting off having children until later: they assume that their lives will belong to someone else. That’s the underlying reasoning behind the shock that many people have when *gasp!* somebody admits that hanging with their kid can get old.

As a matter of fact, my first instinct when I read that (that’s right: I’m not the originator of this particular revelation) was to recoil. But when I allowed myself to think about it, I realized that yes, you can think your offspring is speshul and amazazing and yet simultaneously find yourself coming up with excuses to get out of “playtime.”

The fact is, little kids are discovering for the first time things that to you, as an old fart grown person, are rather stale. You’ve literally been there, done that.

There certainly are things an adult can relish reliving. I’d call them parenting perks. You can go into the little kid playrooms at the Natural History Museum and McDonald’s. You have an excuse to go down water slides, ride a pony/camel/elephant, and of course the mother-lode: go trick or treating. And to be sure, some things are fun to “rediscover” through a child’s eyes (ever watch a baby catch bubbles?).

But those things will get old faster for you than for them, as anyone who has read the same story six times in a row can attest to. And the daily play? The arrange dinosaurs by the position of their little plastic legs type thing? I really can’t even understand it, much less get into it. If I present T with a toy and start playing with it my way, I guarantee that he’ll start playing with it in some other [extremely opaque] way.

And getting back the original set up here: my grown-up activities (read: ball games and concerts) are not always fun for him either. We actually do include T in many of our adult pursuits (like the time I took him not only craft shopping at Michael’s, but to the actual craft night itself, complete with gossiping ladies). I cherish many a memory of being dragged to football parties with my parents as young tot. Everybody would be drinking beer and having loud conversations I couldn’t really follow, I couldn’t hold my mom and dad’s attention for more than 45 seconds at once, and there weren’t any good toys there. I usually ended up falling asleep in the corner, more from boredom than sleepiness. I would have much rather stayed home with a babysitter who let me eat frozen waffles for dinner and watch Snick. Does that mean there was something inherently wrong with me, for not finding my parents’ parties interesting? Of course not. We were into different things. It didn’t affect how much they loved me or how much I loved them.

So why should the inverse be true? There is nothing wrong with a parent who is not utterly consumed by everything child.

Me and T? We’re into different things.

That doesn’t mean we never have fun together, far from it.  He helps me cook. I read him books complete with character voices. We made up a game called eau-de-toe (I’m not going to explain it to you). I’m not saying that quality time with your munchkin isn’t important or fun: it definitely is. But it’s also OK if you enjoy solitary kayaking, wine tasting with friends, or watching Dance Moms while eating peanut butter straight from the jar equally as much.

Mamas and Papas, let’s give ourselves a break. You can love being with your child and still think his idea of a good time is boring as crap. She probably feels the same. And I submit to you that that is not a bad thing. After all, play is a child’s work, and you can’t do his work for him, right? (Answer: no. Put down the magic markers, mom).

And to my un-childed peeps: there’s no need to be shocked if a parent admits this.

(Related: check out my review of All Joy and No Fun: The Paradox of Modern Parenthood–and go read it yourself!)


One Response to “NAMB: My kid can be boring (and I bet yours can too)”

  1. dirtyrottenparenting August 20, 2014 at 9:58 pm #

    So true. I can only race the cars down the car track on the stairs or pretend to eat plastic food for so long before I start plotting my escape to the wine closet.

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