Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The Lockout

Ah, summer. When I was little, I would look forward to school vacation in giddy anticipation of those days when the sun would be shining and the air was all warm and toasty. I remember how I'd peek out my bedroom window and get a burst of excitement at the first glimpse of blue sky. It always made me leap out of bed and beg my mother to go straight outside! Forget breakfast! I'll chew on a handful of grass if I get hungry! Just LET ME OUT!!!

So let's talk about kids these days. Oh, I know I sound old. But hell. What is going on with kids these days? They couldn't care less if it's 85 degrees and sunny, 30 degrees and snowing ("Nooo...I don't like building snowmen! The snow gets in my eyyyyyyyyes...."), or 60 degrees with hurricane winds and hail the size of golfballs. It's all the same to them. "Can I play Wii?" No. "Well, then, can I play Playstation?" NO. "Okay, then I'll play my DS..." NO! You are getting dressed and going outside!

Oh, my. Commence the dramatic gasps all around. Outside? A fate worse than death, apparently.

"Nooooo!!!!! Not outside!!! There's nothing to DO outside!"

"I don't understand," I said today, shaking my head with confusion. "I used to find a million things to do outside. I used to collect dirt, add some water, and make dirt soup. I'd look for frogs, pick them up, chase squirrels, collect bugs in a plastic cup and examine them...."

They both stood there, noses crinkled, going, "Ewwww! Mom, you were GROSS!"

"Fine," I said. "Then play with your Legos."

"Whaaaaat?" they replied in horror and disgust. "LEGOS???"

"Okay," I said. "Then why don't you build a fort and play with your toys underneath it."

"A...fort? How do you make a fort? What's a fort? Can we google it? What do you use a fort FOR? Why would I build a..."

"NEVERMIND!" I said, throwing up my hands. "Here's another idea: Clothes, sandals, out!"

More frightened gasps. Oh, dear. Tough crowd.

After approximately 3 hours and 42 minutes involving 12 snack requests and much difficulty with pulling on pants and velcro'ing sandals, I finally got them out the door, heads hanging in defeat.

Two point four seconds later, I heard the door sliding open again.

Oh, dear God, I am going to kill my own spawn.

Two little heads poked in. "Uh, Mommy? We're getting hot."


The door slid closed slowly, with no enthusiasm. I saw them standing on the deck, looking at each other, communicating with their eyes only. "What is going on? Why would we be outside while the TV is inside?" They shook their heads slowly in confusion, throwing me a sideways glance, to see if I was witnessing this little pickle I'd put them in.

I finally saw them trudging toward the swing set. So I turned back towards the kitchen and the mess that I'd been trying to clean up for the past eighteen hours.

Sixty seconds later, there they were again, staring at me with wide eyes as they slowly slid the door open.

"What now??!?"

"Um, I need...something," said my youngest, as he walked in warily, keeping a close eye on my expression. Which must've been difficult to decipher through the cloud of steam coming out of my ears.

Seconds later, I saw him side-stepping hurriedly to the door, with something hidden behind his back.

"What do you have?" I inquired with irritation. I was quite sure it wasn't something conducive to outdoor activities.

He showed me: His DS and a bag of games.

I confiscated the mind-numbing electronics, ushered him to the door that leads to imagination and wonder, slid it shut, and locked it.

(They had no idea I locked it, and I could still see them, and therefore they were technically "supervised," so hang up your damn phones, you humor-challenged, DCF-calling people.)

Two minutes went by. I heard tug-tug-tug and then a "Heeeeeyyy! That's not nice, Mommy!"


They backed away in surprise, hands up in self defense from this verbal onslaught, and shuffled back to the swing set.

I turned away and started to head toward - ...


Hooooo, boy.

The little one was standing at the door, using exaggerated sign language and theatrical demonstrations to indicate that he needed a drink and would promptly wither away if I didn't unlock the door and provide him with sustenance.

I marched to the kitchen, grabbed two juice boxes, unlocked the door, tossed one to each of them, and relocked the door.

I turned back to - ....


The oldest was holding himself down below, jiggling around, face pressed against the door, creating a sweaty pig nose print on the glass, yelling, "I have to do peeee!!!"

I rolled my eyes and let him in, and the little one tried to hide next to him, matching his footsteps, so that he could sneak in, too. I ushered him back to the deck, closed the door, and with an authoritative pointed finger, I mouthed loudly, "Stay out!"

I have to admit that at this point I wished someone was videotaping because boy-oh-boy I could probably rake in some serious bucks with this material. If I weren't so frustrated, I would've been rolling on the floor holding my stomach from laughing.

I finally got the oldest to finish the longest episode of urination in his life, followed by nearly scrubbing the skin off his hands while singing Pearl Jam tunes (complete with background vocals and instrumental inflection between the verses). After much yelling nudging, I got him back outside.

With each knock came a request followed by a quick rebuttal:

"I'm thirsty again."
Drink from the hose. That's what kids do. THAT IS THE FUN OF BEING OUTDOORS.

"I'm hoooooootttttt..."
That's because you keep walking to the door to ask me things and complain. What you need is a good run around the yard with that beach ball you guys made me buy at Target last month. It'll cool you right off.

"I have to pee again!"
We have bushes.

"I'm hungry!"
There's a peach tree to your left and a basil plant to your right.

"How many more minutes do we have to stay out here?"

"How many MORE minutes?"

"We're getting tired..." (insert pathetic pouty-face)
Here are two lawn chairs. Or would your rather go to your rooms and take a nap? (That one worked like a charm...for about 6 minutes — the longest stretch of peace and quiet yet.)

Next came the little one standing outside the door, holding his behind, mouthing, "I'M GONNA POOP MY PANTS, MOMMY, FOR REALLLL!!!!" followed by me announcing that if I didn't see evidence of this in the toilet he was going to sit in the corner. And not the corner of the inside of the house, the corner of the YARD.

A few minutes later, I quietly hear, "Uh, Mommy? Do you need to see the poop before I flush?"

And with that, I accepted the Worst Mother of the Year award, unlocked the door, and put an end to everyone's misery.

I think that was the longest 17 minutes of my life.

I am now sitting in my bedroom (with the door locked), listening to my youngest shouting excitedly as he plays Mario games on the Wii, and my oldest with his iPod, happily singing Taylor Swift's "Today Was a Fairytale."