Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The Deconstruction Of My Living Room Couch

Sometimes, you just gotta let the kids go nuts.

Right now almost every cushion from my three couches is on the floor.  Right now neither child is wearing enough clothing to go out in public, and they are both lounging on the floor, slack jawed and glassy-eyed, slurping down Ovaltine and watching Nick Jr like a couple of zombified, pale, half-naked Oompa-Loompas.

They are doing this because I'm done.  I've been trying to get to some of my neglected duties as a stay-at-home mom (vacuuming, laundry,  systematically dismantling the spiderweb apartment complex that has formed around the my kitchen chandelier...), but instead of playing quietly in their respective bedrooms like the children on planet Yeah-Right must do, they have tipped over Rollie's plastic basketball goal, Elsa is straddling the post like it's a horse and Rollie is pushing it by the base, inching her around the living room and shouting "Giddyup, Elsa!" at the top of his lungs.  Just another day at the Soooo-Not Okay Corral.

As soon as I convinced them that this was the way neither God nor Fischer Price intended for that toy to be used, they abandoned it and moved onto something far more constructive (at least I think so...I couldn't hear them over the roar of the vacuum, but Elsa only emerged once with a tear-streaked face, so I'm pretty sure they were involved in some nice, peer-building activities).

Because I soon grew tired of their pantomimed antics, I switched off the vacuum and began a frenzied disassembling of the couch.  Elsa and Rollie looked on, probably thinking, That's it...she's finally snapped.  We did it! (high-five)

After I'd thrown the cushions on the floor in a haphazard pile of polyester, I said, "Go for it."

They stared at me like I'd just tried to explain Conservation of Momentum.

"Here, you guys can jump around on all these pillows.  Go ahead.  Have fun."

I didn't need to tell them thrice.  They leaped onto the mountain of cushions and giggled like they were getting away with something so illicit even they weren't sure they should be doing it.  And while I don't normally encourage activities that include flinging their bodies off of pieces of furniture onto pillows while clad in only their underwear, at least I can get a few minutes peace knowing that they're not hitting, pinching, pushing or biting each other.  Yet.

For the past few months a phrase has been running through my head, one I heard countless times from my own father.  If he happened to be in ear shot while one of my siblings or I was complaining that we were bored, or we were trying to thwart our own boredom by trying to outdo each other in a Let's See Who Can Be More Obnoxious contest (which--according to Carrie--I was usually the victor), our father would frown and say, Why don't ya'll find something constructive to do?

My siblings and I were mystified by this suggestion.  Constructive?  What does he mean?  Like, make something out of construction paper? Build something with Lincoln Logs? Tinker Toys? Bubblegum wrappers?

My brother Matt would be the only one who really took this suggestion to heart--he spent countless hours making all sorts of things out of old computer punch cards.  Guns, sharks, the entire helicopter cockpit from the hit TV show Blue Thunder.  My sister and I would just sort of look at each other for while, until we started our apoplectic giggling because not only were we clueless as to what our father wanted us to do, but now we were also hilariously terrified that if we didn't find something constructive to do, our father was going to open up a can of whoop-ass.  (Side Note: Once we were past a certain age, Whoop-Ass became You Must Sit On The Couch For As Long As I Deem Necessary For You To Learn Your Lesson, Even If This Means You Will Have To Make Sure Your Prom Dress Coordinates With The Floral Pattern Of The Upholstery.)

So anyway, my point this time (yes, I actually have one for a change) is that sometimes you have to just let your kids go nuts.  Eat candy.  Run around in their knickers.  If for no other reason than so that you can get something done around your house that doesn't involve wishing your dog was a reliable baby-sitter so you can drive to the nearest bar and sit outside until it opens.

And as an added bonus, sometimes the little buggers will wear themselves out far better than you ever could:  

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