Family / Kids / Parenting

Enjoying ourselves in spite of it all

This past weekend, we did Things My Kids Didn’t Want to Do but Found out That They Did Want to Do Anyway after We Forced Them to the Things.

Does that make sense? Probably, if you tend to deal with children on a regular basis, it does.

I’m not just talking about run-of-the-mill things like eating and sleeping and going to the bathroom, although of course most children at some point or another will swear up and down that they under no circumstances want or need to eat or sleep or poop even though you can tell — say, by the subtle hint of the series of massive meltdowns punctuated by alternate fits of giggling and sobbing and poking of siblings — that they desperately need to.

I’m talking about things like going for hikes out in nature. Or going to see a really cool exhibit at the art gallery. These are both, coincidentally, things that I forced my children to do this past weekend. Things that they both swore up and down they would rather die than do. “You’re making me waste my weekend!” Rowan snarled at the prospect of a beautiful country hike with our good friends and four dogs. “I’m not going inside! I’ll just wait in the lobby the whole time!” Isaac whined in the parking lot at the art gallery.

And then, we got into the woods, with the dogs straying off the path and the kids throwing sticks to them. With the end-of-season (oh please, please, let it be end-of-season) snowdrifts still thigh-deep once we veered from the trails, and the kids getting happily stuck in them over and over. With the river finally visible underneath its cover of snow, and kids sliding down snow-covered paths on their butts.

And then, we got inside the gallery, with the local university’s student exhibition and its quirky installations and found-object sculptures. With shiny things in the gift shop and the chance to vote on your favorite artwork.



And both children were instantly happy.

And so was I.

Well, maybe not quite instantly. Unlike my kids, it takes me longer, sometimes, to move on past the initial arguments around Doing the Things They Don’t Want to Do but Eventually Enjoy. I have to bite my tongue, often, to avoid blurting out something recriminatory like, “I told you you’d have fun!” or “Maybe next time you’ll trust me.”

So, there you go: their lesson is that sometimes it’s fun, even downright enjoyable, to move out of your comfort zone and try something new, even if what you’d rather be doing is staying home and making Rainbow Loom bracelets or playing on the iPod.

And my lesson is to focus on their enjoyment, not on the work and tears it took to get there.

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  1. “…my lesson is to focus on their enjoyment, not on the work and tears it took to get there.”

    God love you. You’re a better man than I (don’t think about that too much!). I aspire to the same sanguine calm. And will say right now that I’d love a walk in nature and a visit to an art gallery, and might just start the teary work now to get us either of those two places this upcoming weekend.

  2. Pingback: Mama Non Grata » Blog Archive On Magpies and Things We Thought We Didn’t Want to Do: Stuff I wrote other places this week » Mama Non Grata

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