Wednesday, October 31, 2012

One Fun Afternoon

Children need the freedom and time to play. Play is not a luxury. Play is a necessity. ~Kay Redfield Jamison

Sunday afternoon we celebrated a child's birthday with her parents, our friends. They planned to go to an inflatable place so our children could jump around after going for pizza, but when the mother discovered the hours had changed and that the place was only open for just over an hour on Sunday, she called me to find out if Saturday would be better as the place was open for a few hours.

I knew that her husband and mine as well wanted to go hunting on Saturday, although mine did not end up going. I knew I might not be up for going out on Saturday myself. However, above all that I knew that one hour jumping around and climbing those large inflatable structures was more than enough time to tire any child of any age and activity level.

I have gone a few times, just a few, in the past with another homeschool-maybe parent and her child. From experience with watching the other children as well as my own, I could see that after that first hour things go south with the children quickly. There are more injuries, whining, tattle-telling, crying, and just plain unhappy children who never want to leave, but then can barely make the walk to the car in the parking lot.

I mentioned to the mother that I felt an hour and fifteen minutes, which was the span of time the place would be open, was just enough for the children to be worn out but not tip over into that frame of mind that spoils the entire event. Besides, after pizza they could come to our home have cake and ice cream and leave about an hour or so later allowing time for everything digest enough that the inflatable event would not have additional bad memories.

I could relate with this mother as I am a thrifty person wanting the most for my money and I am the mother of an only child also. I think it is common of parents with one child to try to have more experiences and pack in as much as you can because the child has no siblings and so few playmates. This family lives in a more remote place than we do, but her child goes to school. I have had about five and a half more years of experience wrestling with this compensating the only child syndrome, so I reassured her that it would no matter how long the children were there, it would not be long enough for them from their point of view, but it would be plenty of time for them to wear themselves out.

The fathers spent fifteen minutes in one inflatable with the children and returned worn out and sweaty. The mother was not going in one herself, but just a few minutes before closing time my daughter ran up to say that her daughter was hurt and crying. Next thing I knew we both were in front of the inflatable. She quickly kicked off her shoes and dove into the opening of the inflatable maze--I should take this moment to explain that opening was a rather snug fit so when she dove in, she did not clear the opening easily. She began laughing at her own predicament immediately. Realizing it would take her a few minutes to get to her child, I walked around the ouside and spotted the child. She was no longer crying. I inquired about what was wrong and she said she had bent her toe as she dove towards the next chamber in the maze all smiles. Her poor mother was still in the first chamber still laughing at her own struggles and now our husbands were pushing the sides back and forth so she could not keep her balance at all and she wasn't doing that well before they began. She finally exited the maze some minutes later saying that was the hardest thing she had ever done in her life...and I did not have the heart to tell her at that moment that she is still young in her motherhood. hour and fifteen minutes was plenty time enough to wear out everyone. I felt worn out before I even got there as I was still not over this illness myself so I did not tempt fate.

When we arrived at home, my daughter poured herself out of the car and walked so slowly that I felt she was in a time warp. When she got inside, she sat down and stared blankly at nothing, as if she could not hear me saying the cats needed to be fed. She could barely function even after a shower and eating. Her mood the rest of the evening was precarious at best, but I was sure she would sleep well and she did.

~ Thank you, my Lord, for the fun times we enjoy with our children and friends. ~


  1. lol You should have seen the parent Star took paintballing!!!!! NOt me. I woosed but the dad could barely stand upright & both kids [his & mine] had used him as camouflage!

    Smart mum to time it so well. :)

    1. I have my moments...they are few--too few-- but I do have them.


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