Tuesday, April 26, 2016

A Rainy, Friendless Day

For the most part, Ryder is pretty sociable. He goes to school all day and not even 10 minutes after he gets home, someone is knocking at our door. "Can Ryder come out and play?" As a parent, you probably know how much joy it can bring you to know your kids have friends.

But, every once in a while, either because of weather or other things, Ryder is left friendless. He's not a kid who plays great on his own. So, of course, he leans to his default friend. ME. Which I love but at the same time dread. My husband works away for 10 days at a time so for part of the time it's like being a single parent. (kuddos to you single parents out there, you rock!)

I had things around the house to do and dinner to cook and I hadn't really factored "play time" into that schedule. So, I asked him to amuse himself for a couple hours with a promise to play after dinner was finished and cleaned up.

6:30pm. It is now time to own up to that promise. He suggests video games. As this is a weekday and the day is winding down, that was a definite "no". I suggest a board game. We love board games so off he went to the shelf to grab one. Tonight's game of choice: CANDYLAND

Today was a stressful day for me of which I had no time for so I was very happy to play a mindless "race to the end" type game. 

If you have never played Candyland before (have you been living on Mars?), here is the gist of it:

1. recommended for ages 3 and up. I consider this game geared mostly towards pre-school children. It  is extremely simple with no thought required. It also, only takes about 2 minutes to play. I suspect the age rating is purely for choking reasons. However, my son loves it and I know many other children his age (7) and even older who like to play it.
Everything included in Candyland

2. The game comes with 4 playing pieces; A gingerbread person, some sort of gummy candy, an ice cream cone and a marshmallow. My son always picks the ice cream and insists on me being the marshmallow. It has one game board, instructions and a spin dial. 

3. Youngest player goes first and gives the dial a spin. You move to either a single color, a candy square or move forward two colors if you spin a double color. Along the way you pass though different candy lands; Peppermint Forest, Nana's Nut House, Licorice Lagoon, Lollipop Palace, Frosted Palace and finally the winner arrives at King Kandy's Castle by spinning any color. Super simple, super quick.
Game play!

I like Candyland for a few reasons. It's mindless, no thought required. It's quick. Set up is minimal. It comes in a smaller box compared to normal sized games. But, what I really love is that, I think because it is so simple my son uses his imagination to make it more interesting. He does voices. He pretends he is going fast or slow. Sometimes he gets caught in sugar (quick) sand. Licorice Lagoon is the bad guy. Sometimes, its stormy in Candyland. Sometimes we use 2 playing pieces each and have to work as a team to win. There are also a few useless pink candy spaces along the board that serve no purpose. We haven't really come up with a way to use them in the game but would love to have some ideas!

Candyland is also a retro game. It first dazzled children back in 1949! It has changed a bit since back then. You used to use cards to decide where to move to instead of a dial and some of the names have changed. It has certainly stood the test of time. I didn't have Candyland when I was a child. I did, however, have a Candyland jigsaw puzzle. I have searched mercilessly for a picture online of the puzzle I had but to no avail.
1980's version that I remember playing

In the end we played for about 45 minutes which was awesome! That took us right up to bedtime snack time. I was going to pass Candyland along to a younger child, but I think we will keep it for now. It was a great way to spend some time together without using any kind of screen. And to me, that counts for quite a lot.

Friday, February 19, 2016

PARENTS: They're Just like You!

  So, you have chosen not to have children. That's great! I am happy you have made a decision about your life that you are happy with. And, yes, I do believe you when you say you will not change your mind.
  What I am not happy about is that you feel you need to defend your decision. It is none of my business, nor anyone else's business how you choose to live your life.  I myself, was in my late 20's before I decided that I wanted to be a parent. Before that, I had completely decided that I did NOT want to be a mother. And even when I did decide, I honestly didn't care if it happened or not. If it did, great! If it didn't well, no big deal either. Fortunately, it did though as I simply cant imagine my life without my son.
  However, here is the thing; Just because you do not want to be a parent does not mean you have to try to make parents feel terrible for having kids, or make parenthood out to be a death sentence. A sad, mundane, uncool existence. Have you ever read those articles "What Not to Say to such and such who lives a different lifestyle as your own?" There are so, so many of those going around but I just love the ones about what not to say to a person who doesn't want kids. If you do not have kids simply because you do not want them or because you feel being a parent is just not for you then I respect that %100. I respect a person who says they don't really have a reason, they just don't want them.
   If you have never read one of those articles, here is the jist of them. A person starts of by complaining that people say something ridiculous to them like "you don't want kids! How could you not want kids!?" Rude, I agree. After that they list their reasons why they don't want kids. Most of them involve things they think you cant do because you have children. Most of them are ridiculous. Most of them make me feel like you think being a parent is stupid.
Let me clairfy, you can do almost ANYTHING with children that you did without. Granted, maybe in a different manner or adjusted in some way but it IS possible.
      "I do not want children because I will not be able to travel"
       I am not sure where it is written but apparently, parents must stay home at all times. Bound to their house and a life of servitude where our only purpose in life is to feed and clean up after our children. Since my son was born, I have traveled much more. I WANT to travel more because I want to show him the world. A child can travel pretty much anywhere you can, except places where a legal age is permitted. My son was only 3 months old the first time he spent all day on a cross country flight. I have a friend who's little boy is only 10 months and he has already been to 7 different countries. I also recently read an article about a woman who has backpacked Europe with her baby strapped to her back. Yes, children are a jail cell, we never get to go anywhere.
Me and my husband say "lets have a baby and show him the world!"


Indeed, I never get to do a single thing I want anymore. I never read, or draw, or get together with my girlfriends, me and my husband never ever go on dates, I never ski anymore and I didn't buy that cute pair of shoes I have been eyeing. **insert eye roll** I get to do all those things! Maybe not all the time or as often as I did before but I still do it. And guess what, I enjoy being with my kid too. We play, laugh, hangout, read, go to the movies and this year my son learned to snowboard. I never regret when I "cant" do something because I have to stay home with my kid. NEVER. I don't mind that I cant go to a bar every Saturday and Friday night. To be honest, even if I didn't have my son, I still wouldn't want to do that. Again, I will say, kids can do pretty much anything an adult can. Just on a smaller scale and maybe not for as long. And the older a kid gets, the more they can do. To be honest, if I were childless, I'd still be doing what I am doing right now. My son doesn't hold me back from anything. He encourages me to do more.

#3. MONEY                                                                                                                                               This one, I may have to give you. You are right. Kids are expensive. Diapers, formula, clothes, food, school, activites, toys, all cost an insane amount of money. But the truth is, if I didn't have a kid I would still only have the same amount of money as I do now, it would just be spent on different  things. Your boss doesn't  say "oh? your childless. Have a raise!" I know childless couples and couples with children who make the same money and they have pretty much the exact same things. Same house, same vehicles, same toys. As parents, we budget. We don't spend willy nilly, after all we have a kid we have to feed and clothe. But we do not mind one single bit. There is nothing we would rather spend our money on then our son. I get the same thrill from buying him a toy as I do from buying myself a new pair of earings
I have a kid AND I have it all. I must be Batman!

#4 TIME                                                                                                                                                      Yup, kids sure do take up a lot of your time. So does any relationship. It's how you chose to spend that time that makes the difference. I love the time I get to spend with my son. If someone granted me a wish of free time to do whatever I wanted I would still choose to spend it with my son doing something awesome. Maybe we would go skiing, or swimming, or to an amusement park, travel. Maybe we would just watch tv. Either way, we'd make the most of it. My son is in grade 1 this year. On school days the amount of "time" I actually have to spend with him is only about 3 hours. He is in school all day and after he is outside playing with his friends. The older he gets, the less time I will get with him. Eventually, he will grow up, move out and make a life of his own. Then we will have all the "time" and "freedom" you feel we have been missing out on. And we will probably hate it. The thing is, we don't mind "sacrificing" our time because there is no other place we would rather be.
Parents have no life, apparently

#5 OLD AGE                                                                                                                                           
Apparently, we only become parents so that we will have someone to take care of us when we are old. I can tell you, that thought never even entered my mind when we decided to try. I most certainly do NOT expect my son to be our personal care taker. My grandmother is 93 and has 9 children. Do you know who looks after her? She does, and with as much oomph as anyone  half her age. I do not plan on needing "looking after" in my old age. I hope to be as full of life and energy as my grandmother. And if the world sets me on a different path, I will plan for a nurse the way most people do.
Me and my husband in old age. We got on that bike all by ourselves without the help of our son

The bottom line is, when someone lives a different life style then you and love it, it is hard to see why anyone else wouldn't choose the same things. It's human nature to feel that way. For instance, people who love pizza cant understand why someone wouldn't like pizza as well. It's just the way it is. I try to see things on the other side of the coin. When someone loves something, they want you to share that love too and if you don't they think you are missing out. Most people aren't really judging you, they honestly, just don't understand.
I chose to become a parent. I didn't mind any of the so called "sacrifices" people associated with becoming one. Nothing in  my life feels like a sacrifice. My life is pretty much the same except there is an extra person in it who depends on me and truly loves me.
The articles usually contain 8-10 things we as parents are not supposed to say to childless choosing people. And I agree, I have no right to question your reasons or judge you for your choice. And I don't. But Please, do not judge me for mine. 

"Just Mom"