The Great Outdoors

March 11, 2010 at 2:49 pm | Posted in Giggles, Lollipop | 18 Comments

It’s a beautiful day outside. The sun is shining. White, puffy cloud-shapes are floating across the sky, just waiting to be identified. Birds are singing their spring ditties and bopping from limb to limb. Things are blooming.

We should be outside. Yes, we should. But we aren’t. And I assume full responsibility.

I don’t like going outside. This is one of my biggest parental shortcomings. Perhaps one of my biggest human shortcomings.

A Walk on the Wild Side

My Mother Nature
Let me clarify. I appreciate and respect nature. I try to live a green lifestyle (if I forget my bags when I go to the grocery store, I opt for no bags as penance). And though I fear them tremendously, I wholeheartedly support the role that wasps play in our fragile ecosystem. But I don’t like to be outside.

I like to watch the outside. From the inside.

It has always been thus. Always, I was content to color at the kitchen table. Lounge in the recliner with my favorite Judy Blume. Decorate houses for my Barbies all over the living room. And that suited my mom just fine. Probably because I was an only child, and a quiet one, she never once said to me, “Won’t you just go outside already??”

And the Winner is … Barbie
Other friends’ mothers kicked us out occasionally. (Wherein I was stung by my first wasp. Correlation? Probably.)

But I remember having an all right time when forced to play outside. We concocted magical stews with strange plants and garden hoses. We played Army. We chased some boys and they chased us back.

Even still, I always wanted to be inside. Playing with my friend’s grandmother’s hand-me-down jewelry. Tinkering on the piano I wished I could play. Or trimming Barbie’s hair in the sink.

Still I am that way. (Except now I trim Giggles’s hair.)

Why Poop is Good (and Other Lessons)
I do take my kids outside. I laugh with Giggles as he lobs rocks and sticks down the slide. I push Lollipop in the baby swing, because that’s the one where she feels comfortable “going really super-high, Mommy.” We dig in the mulch together, teeter along the limestone pavers, look for cupcakes and crocodiles in the sky.

But all the while, I’m listening for Daddy’s car to pull into the driveway. So he can take over while I cook dinner or clean toilets or dust the ceiling fans or anything.

At least we’re out there, right? (OK, not today, but some days.) At least I’m teaching my children that flowers are best left on the vine. That the cache of acorns in the mulch is probably a squirrel-friend’s snack. That the beetles will eat the dog poop and turn it into dirt.

That’s something, right? Even if, secretly, I’m waiting for the day I can say: “Won’t you kids just go outside already??”

What’s the thing you do for your kids that you really don’t like? Be honest. (My ego needs a boost.)



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  1. Teva’s too little yet to know….but I’m sure there is something. It will probably be puzzles. My husband loves doing puzzles. I find them boring and tedious. Teva will probably love puzzles, and I will have to pretend they are fun.

  2. As a young girl, I would have chosen Judy Blume over playing outside any day of the week. These days, I’d be happy to read a book outside, but taking my kids outside isn’t really my favorite activity either. It was sunny yesterday, and I thought, “This means I’m obligated to take them to the park.” Admittedly, it was a great outing once we got there, but I always have a tough time motivating.

    I dream of a big, fenced yard and the day when my kids are old enough to play out there on their own!

  3. I forgot to mention that I am very impressed that you go without bags if you forgot your reuseable ones — quite a penance. How do you manage to get everything inside once you’re home? Do you fill the reusable bags you forgot once you arrive or make a hundred trips inside?

    • I usually have the bags in my car, so I just load up once I’m in the parking lot. If I don’t have them, I carry the perishable stuff in the house right when I get home and go back for the rest when I get a kid-free moment. One day, the kiddos will be big enough to help, and that will count as “outside time,” right??

  4. All the PRETEND!! It makes me crazy sometimes. “You be Cinderella and I”ll be Snow White….. You be Flounder and I’ll be Ariel…. You be Mary Poppins and I’ll be Jane….”

    And the outside gets to me sometimes too… mostly because of all the preparation – hats, sunscreen, sunglasses, etc, etc….

  5. (waving hand – fellow Judy Blume fan here!) I’m with Lyndsay – I’m horrible at pretend. I’d much rather play a game or read them a book or even play xBox!

  6. With Lyndsay and Jane as well. It’s the unstructured, inside, “Play with me” plea that makes me cringe. Bionicle battles? In which the Wonderboy always wins? I’m over that in about 30 seconds!

    I don’t mind taking them outside, but I admit I’m not really thrilled to be pushing them on the swing for an hour either. I’m psyched for the year to come when they can both get those swings going on their own!

  7. I really don’t mind being outside, I just don’t like the constant flitting from one activity to another out there, and not being able to just sit and enjoy the sun. We don’t have a “real” yard so most of our play consists of hanging in our driveway which is too steep for them to ride bikes and such safely, and keeping them from getting too near our 8 foot high retaining wall. Sometimes I think I’m just not really that good at “playing”. Love talking to them, reading to them, sometimes even playing a game, but I get so BORED otherwise. And I despise that word, boring.

  8. I don’t like putting my toddler to bed at 7pm. I see her for only 2 hours a day, from when I pick her up from daycare at 5pm to the time she goes to bed. And I crave so much more than the two hours that I have with her but usually, by 7pm, she’s spent and needs her rest. And I know her sleep is important so I do it, but then I miss her for the next 22 hours. I desperately want to hold her, kiss her, hear her giggling with her daddy and see her smiling mischievously at me. But I have to wait until I see her again the next day. And so in the meantime, I recall the moments we shared together that day and write about them, as second prize. Pretty distant second, if you ask me.

  9. Hmmm, you’ve made me think.

    I’m the opposite on the outside thing. I’m usually making the kids stay outside longer than they want to.

    Isabel doesn’t play Barbies much, but I didn’t much like playing with her when she did. She was so BOSSY. But I sucked it up at least once a week and did it.

    Video games are probably the thing the boys most want me to play with them, and something I hate. Gives me a headache, and I’m not very good. Not fun. So I’m with you on the counting down the minutes til Dad gets home to take over on that activity.

    ps. I LOVED Judy Blume!

  10. I’m an indoor girl, too.

    I hate playing board games. UGH.

  11. I don’t really like going outside, either. Although if our yard was fenced in, I’d probably feel differently. We go to the park sometimes, on the weekends when J is home and can run around with them, but that’s only when he’s feeling like it and that’s not always. Other than that, we stay indoors.

    Also, I really don’t like reading to my kids. I know, how horrible. But my kids don’t sit there and read a book with me. No. They fight and try to rip pages and eat the pages and I rarely get to finish even a single sentence.

  12. I’m an indoor girl too. We had a beautiful day here yesterday – sunny and in the 60s after the snowiest winter on record – and, like @mep, I sort of groaned at the thought that we’d have to go outside. So you’re definitely not alone!

    I recently read somewhere about giving yourself permission as a parent not to do some of the things you don’t like, but I feel guilty if we don’t get outside, plus I know that the fresh air does wonders for that night’s sleep!

  13. Such a thoughtful post. I think that in so many ways this is what parenthood is about – doing things we might otherwise never opt to do for the sake of our wee ones. I am not a huge fan of baby classes. It is not my cup of tea (coffee, rather) to sit around in a circle and sing “Wheels on the Bus” but I do it because I know the socialization and exposure is good for my girls… This is actually a really interesting and far-reaching question. I would imagine that there are many, many things we all do (probably without realizing it) that we would not do if we were sans kids.

  14. I don’t like reading the same board books over and over and over again. I love reading new stories but just can’t make myself read one where I know the plot already (unless I like it, like Goodnight Moon or the Little House on the Prairie books)!

    As for outside, we’ll go out but my medications don’t allow me to be in the sun for long so if we can’t find a shady area, we don’t stay out very long. It’s a nice excuse 🙂

  15. I don’t like to eat dinner at the table with mine. She likes to sing and play with her fork and pretend she’s a dog, then a cat, then I have to be the baby…. That sounds horrible; she’s really very good company, but sometimes I just want to eat a quiet meal and drink a whole cup of hot tea without having to bark. I know family time around the dinner table is important, and we make a point to do it at least sometimes. But I really like to eat on the floor in front of curious George cartoons where she enjoys watching and I don’t have to bark. I know that’s a horrible habit, but I’ve convinced myself we can break it later.

  16. (Late comment, but better late than never): I hate swimming with my children. Thank goodness I live in the north, with short summers, and we don’t have a pool. Thank goodness that my father LOVES to be in the water with my kids when we do end up somewhere with a pool (and curse the days he decides to golf instead!).

    We are signing up for swim lessons this spring (when soccer is over). I know they won’t be ready to go it alone, but soon!

  17. […] I don’t like bugs. Or sweat. Or dirt. Or marshmallows. But my family does. So I go. Twice a year, as per a verbal agreement between my husband and me, I drag myself into the woods, along with three kids, a gigantic dog, an even more gigantic tent, sleeping bags, air mattresses, firewood, s’more fixin’s, peanut butter and jelly fixin’s, water shoes for 5, hiking shoes for 5, stuffed animals for way more than 5, camp dishes and utensils, paper towels, toilet paper, a hefty supply of hand sanitizer, and a thousand other things. […]

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