Thursday, October 29, 2009

Fun Stealer

Looking for fun

I'm a fun stealer. A stealer of fun. Does that make me a bad mom? This is what I was accused of the other day by a scuzzy man I ran into on a street corner.

Let's back up.

It was the first day of preschool and my son and a couple of his buddies (and their moms) were getting pre-preschool doughnuts to celebrate. After the sugar infusion the boys were on the sidewalk banging on the newspaper machines and having general excitement overload. I was watching from the corner of my eye while trying to listen to my friends when a man came up to the boys and started chatting. They were out of earshot so I sidled over and jokingly said, "careful boys, don't break anything now." Or something innocuous (or so I thought) like that. Basically, I just wanted to inject myself into the conversation since I didn't know this man.

Later, I asked myself if it was because he was unwashed with wild hair, clutching a lot of bags . . . but that is just middle-class guilt clouding my vision. I know that I'd have done the same thing if he'd been in a suit.

After my comment, he wheeled around and said with complete disgust, "oh GREAT! You've just completely ruined their fun. You're just the kind of mom I'd want! They were exploring their world and you had to go and ruin it! What a horrible mother!!!" He continued to yell at me as he walked away down the sidewalk. I was taken aback of course. Confrontation always makes me sweat - and in this case, I had nowhere to place my emotions. I couldn't scream back at him (as I so wanted to do) because the kids were right there. So my fight or flight response just made me shake - good times! I even questioned myself for a minute - did I take away their fun? Am I a horrible mother? And then I really wanted to slap myself - because really that's what it comes down to. That is the mother experience in a nutshell. Constant questioning from external and internal sources - am I doing a number on my kid?

So here I was on a street corner being yelled at by a man with obvious issues and it was affecting me. This crazy guy was making me question myself and my parenting. Visibly flustered, I walked back over to my friends (they missed the whole exchange) and recounted the whole fun confrontation. One friend said something like, "Well, maybe if his mom had taken away a little more of his fun he'd be in a better place right now." We all laughed and my tension eased a bit. But later when I was reflecting on the whole experience, I couldn't stop thinking about that guy's poor mom. She was still being judged! I mean at some point can we be absolved? Or it it always going to be our (collective mom) fault?

Well, I for one will continue to be a proud stealer of fun.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Dinosaur Mania

Monkey is loving the dinos these days (they pop up in all sorts of conversations) and I thought I'd share some of the winning books and toys. We were lucky enough to get some great used books from an older boy who also loved dinosaurs (and pirates but that's another post). Here are a few books that Monkey has really enjoyed, again and again and again and again . . .

The Colossal Book of Dinosaurs - Monkey really loves chapter books and this book is no exception. Each chapter is a "day in the life" story of a specific dinosaur. I really enjoyed learning right along with him about how all the featured dinos lived. It's nice because you learn about each dinosaur via a story - not just a list of dry facts.

Jane Yolen and illustrator Mark Teague have a whole series of "How Do Dinosaurs X" books. They are short and sweet - rhyming format. The first half asks if dinos do X (all the naughty/funny things you probably shouldn't do) and then at the end it changes to how dinos really act (very well of course). The rhymes are cute but the illustrations are really what I love in this series. Each dino is named somewhere on the page as well - and Monkey loves to find each one.

When Dinosaurs Came With Everything - written by Elise Broach/illustrated by David Small

We stumbled upon this book eating breakfast - it was free in the Cheerios box. I have to say I love that program - we've gotten some great books out of it. A few weeks ago we found it at the library so we could see it in large format. This is a great story about a boy who goes on boring "errand day" with his mom - but this day you get dinos with EVERYTHING. Needless to say, he loves it and his mom is none too happy. Great story - and I haven't gotten sick of reading it. High praise indeed!

Dinosaurs Forever - written by William Wise/illustrated by Lynn Munsinger

This book is packed full of funny rhymes about dinosaurs - some teach you things (like the three ages of the dinosaurs - Jurassic, Triassic, Cretaceous) and others are just for fun (like the dino ball or Allosaurus trying desperately to stick to her diet). I have to say I have gotten tired of reading this - but only because it's been on the menu for nap and nighttime for weeks now - and it's long! And if you skip one - he will call you out!

Last but not least - a great dinosaur set that gives good bang for the buck. It's the Animal Planet Big Tub of Dinosaurs. We got this as a gift and it's gotten so much use! I've seen it for many prices but Toys R Us has the best so far at $19.99 (and I HATE Toys R Us - but for the next dino lover's birthday party we're going to brave it). The dinosaurs aren't the most realistic - but 12 dinos for twenty bucks - plus TWO volcanoes (popular at our house) and trees (way too many trees) is a great deal. The play mat is way too flimsy - but who needs it? Lately we set up our the train tracks in dinosaur land - that's a lot of fun. So I would highly recommend this set - great for open-ended dino play and not too expensive. I've seen one dinosaur for over $20 before (very nice and all but really does Monkey care that it's accurate to the millimeter? - I think not!)

Playmobile also has a cool set with an exploding volcano - but only a couple of dinosaurs. It also comes with some scientists and lots of little, teensy equipment for said scientists (not a great toy for those with babies crawling around). It also has dinosaur bones that you can "find" and put together - fun! This set is more expensive than the "tub" but he does love to explode the volcano! We just add both sets together nowadays. Dino land takes over the living room most days.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Halloween Fun

I just stumbled upon this wonderful blog and it's perfect for this time of year! It's all Halloween all the time. Love it! I can't wait to make these great spinners. It also led me to a fun flickr group. I love Halloween!

I know I haven't blogged in a while but I hope to change that - soon. I've joined a writing group (which I hope to actually attend at least a few times a month) and sadly, I've decided to stop writing for Seattle Picks. It was a hard decision but I'm hoping it will be for the best and help me focus more . . . you heard it here first. Now if this is my last post until next year - you know it didn't work!

Enjoy the Halloween goodies!