Beware of Being Nice?

By September 21, 2012 9 Comments
My brother-in-law has a theory:  “For every nice thing you do for your child, they will punish you for it.”

At the time he said it, I was confused.  What do you mean?  That’s a little cynical, don’t you think?  But as time went by, I started paying attention to all the “wonderful and nice” things I do for my children.

When I pack their lunches they often say, “I hate that!”  When we take them on a fun trip they fight in the car.  When I buy them one thing at the store, they often get upset that they can’t have TWO things.  I seem to vacillate between being the recipient of two statments…”Oh, thank you Mommy, you’re the BEST Mommy in the world!” and “You’re so mean!”

It is often baffling to me how I can be a witch and Glenda the Good Fairy within the same ten minutes.

I’m really into chore charts, making kids weed, having children vacuum their own rooms because I believe this makes me less of a doormat and them more capable and thus, more confident.  And clean.  

Lately though, I decided that I wanted to work on having more “fun” with my kids.  My head swirled with wonderful activities we could do together.  I downloaded Kelle Hampton’s Petco Scavenger Hunt (FUN idea!).  For everything I’m trying to teach, I also want my children to remember their mother smiling and having fun with them.

This month on powerofmoms.com the author call-out theme is, “How Do You Have Fun With Your Kids?”  Perfect, I thought.  I’d do something fun and submit my story.

I picked Sunday, not traditionally a “fun” day in our house, more of a collapse after church day.  Every Sunday afternoon Gregor and I take a long afternoon nap.  When I’m not yelling down the stairs to “Be Quiet!” or “Paige, do not open my door to ask me about licorice,” Sunday naptime has to happen for us all to coexist.  

I also decided, that Sunday dinners would become more special.  “Yes!” Nelson shouted, “Does that mean no more spaghetti?”  I guess we have too much spaghetti.  So, with “fun” on my mind, I woke up from my Sunday nap and hopped downstairs.  Inspired by Shawni’s International Nights of food, I chose Chinese to cook for dinner.  The kids were super duper double dog decker excited about that one –  they love all things Chinese food.  Even the bad buffet lines.  They love it all.

Now, waking up from my Sunday naps is usually not a fun experience.  Leaving four children downstairs for two hours is a dangerous proposition, but there you have it.  I need the nap more than I need the house clean.

But instead of wallowing in the overwhelming sea of oh my gosh what have you done to this house…I swallowed and smiled.  Today was going to be fun.  Taking pictures always helps me see the lighter side.
This is only the kitchen.  The entire living room was a very impressive-looking fort.  The other side of the kitchen was a ship made out of the table and chairs.  Cope also decided she would make her first skirt with her brand new sewing machine.  She’s never made clothing of any sort before.  I did appreciate her go-getter attitude.

It didn’t quite turn out.  She didn’t know that the fabric was supposed to be doubled.  “I’m so bad at this domesticity!” she wailed.  I hear ya’ girl, I hear ya.  It takes a lifetime to master, honey.  And I never did master the sewing and that’s why I stay far, far away from sewing projects.  That is why I have my sister-in-law Kimmy.  The skirt barely fit Paige, but still, way to try, Cope.

Quick, quick, I said, clean up time so we can have Chinese! They actually hustled with excitement.

Time to move on to our very easy Chinese dinner. Yum.
I found this idea on Pinterest, I think.  Fortunes cooked in rolls!  I put Nelson in charge of writing the fortunes which he whole-heartedly embraced with great gusto and glee.  Yes, dangerous, but FUN nonetheless.  

Write the fortune on a little piece of paper and fold in a tiny square of tin foil.

In the mean time, Grandpa showed up for dinner with summer produce.  Hooray!  Making the evening that much more fun.

That Sunday morning, I took out a frozen loaf of bread (3 for $3.99 at grocery store) and let it rise during the day.  After my nap it was ready to be cut up into eight rolls.  Easy.  The kids always tell me how good my bread recipe is so you should feel very lucky that I shared it with you.

Flatten out the roll, put the tin foil fortune into the roll.  Fold dough up and put on greased pan.  Cook 10 minutes at 400 degrees.
Uncle Ian came over for games of chess in the backyard.  Love having their pictures taken.  Fun.

I admired the swiss chard that was sitting the sink, then froze it for the next day’s Vitamix concoction.

The stir fry came together quickly.  The rice was plucky and fluffy.

And was so delicious.  It really was a hit with the whole family.  Easy recipe:
Ginger (didn’t have fresh; used dry)

Garlic (minced…to taste)

stir fry in a little oil

Add chicken and saute to cook through

add chopped red pepper

1 cup chicken broth
1/4 cup soy sauce

2 tablespoons sugar

2 tablespoons vinegar

2 tablespoons cornstarch

red pepper flakes

Mix together and add to stir fry. Sauce will thicken after a minute or two

Then add some dry roasted peanuts and scallions.

Serve over rice.
Thanks, Shawni!

I also made frozen egg rolls.  They were fair.
Gregor cut up the squash and made this amazing spicy Chinese dish, but I really couldn’t tell you how.

The biggest hit of the night was…

Nelson’s fortunes.

Baked inside these beauties were small nuggets of a better life and future…

Mine said, “Good things are being said about you…somewhere.”

I’ll have to always remember how much fun it was to have Grandpa open the fortune roll that said, “It is a bad sign when someone says, ‘you’re ugly.'”

Grandpa is a very good sport.

With our Sunday dinner almost completed, I looked around the table and felt a swell of family love.  Everyone was laughing, talking, chowing down. The light was low, the table had been set and even had a tablecloth.  We used cloth napkins and matching cups.  Yes, a success.  It was decided that our Sunday meals would be a little more special from now on.

My eyes wandered around the table, resting on Gregor who gave me a smile.  We went around the room and asked, “What did you learn today?” and my favorite, “Who did you help today?”  Then my eyes came to rest on Nelson.  He had laughed like Shrek’s donkey and scarfed down so much food he was swaying back and forth with happy delirium.

“Oh…” he moaned, “Can I go lay down?”

“Sit,” I said.  “You’re not getting out of dishes.”  I’m convinced my children are masters at being sick at opportune times.

“I really don’t feel good,” he said, patting his stomach.

He got the look.

Minutes went by and when his mom wasn’t looking, the boy wandered into the living room and flopped on the couch.  I took note of his whereabouts and turned back to our dinner.  Until I heard this noise.  It was that noise.  I looked over to see Nelson leaning over the couch and hurling food out of his mouth.  His entire dinner, all the contents of his stomach came up.  It kept coming…and coming…and coming.

I have never seen so much food come out of a person.

I looked at Gregor.  “Oh…Nelson,” he lamented.  “Why didn’t you grab the bowl?”  (We have empathy issues.)

“You have to clean that up,” I said to Gregor, while yelling to Nelson, “So sorry buddy!”

Gregor went into the living room, turned around, and walked back in the kitchen gagging.  “Can’t. do. it,” he choked out.  This has been Gregor’s one annoying trait since we were engaged. (Yep!  He only has one 🙂 He really did come a long way in our marriage.  For instance, he managed to hold my hair when I threw up every morning pregnant with Cope.  He changed diapers, wiped up spit-up, and scrubbed poop off carpet.  I’ve been so proud of his progress.

But these skills have obviously been under-used and gotten rusty.

So I went into the living room and I’m not joking, I had to run right back out my gag reflex was so intense.  My eyes watered, my nose was so overpowered by the smell that I had to force myself to keep it in.

And so, dear 76-year-old Grandpa, asked for a bowl and a scraper and went to work cleaning up the vomit of his grandson.  I have had very few moments when I felt so ashamed.  But still, even that shame couldn’t get me back into the living room.  

Arthur, I’m so very sorry.

Well, Nelson stayed on the couch and fell sleep.  The rest of us ate brownies and ice-cream.

We did have fun.

We were punished.

No, I did not submit my “fun” story.  It was better here anyway, where I really live.

One thing I vow to continue:  We will continue to have better and higher-quality Sunday dinners where we sit around the table like a Norman Rockwell painting meeting an episode of Parenthood.

But at the back of my mind I am circling back to my brother-in-law’s comment.  “For every fun thing you do for your child, they will punish you for it.”

I’m sorry to say, Curt, that you just might be right.  I’m still holding out a teensy weensy bit of hope though…

This weekend I am running away to NYC with husband.  The children are not coming.  Uncle Ian is in charge…Good luck, honey.  



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