So I took all six kids to Ikea yesterday. By myself. (You know that the level of stir craziness in your house is getting dire when taking six children under the age of nine to a crowded store with a labyrinthine layout that requires to you walk a mile to the exit is a preferable activity to staying in your home.)
You’ll be shocked to hear that it went really well: I pushed the baby in the stroller, occasionally while holding my two-year-old like a yelling sack of potatoes under my arm, and the four big kids walked in line behind me. They were allowed to check out the sample rooms and the display furniture, but they understood that when I said it was time to move, it was a code-red, the-toddler-is-about-to-do-something-that-is-going-to-get-us-escorted-out-of-here-by-security emergency, and they needed to move immediately. The stares and looks of awed admiration (or was that fearful revulsion?) made it all worthwhile.
You know what book has the best tips for taking multiple young children out in public? Shadow Divers.
You might not think of a biography about wreck diving as offering a wealth of information for parents, but it does. Shipwreck diving is a notoriously dangerous activity that can lead to injury or death if not handled with the utmost care. These divers prepare extensively before heading down to a sunken ship, studying maps of its interior and checking their equipment for weeks beforehand. Mainly, they know that the name of the game is not pushing their luck. They set a time for the dive before they head under water, and they return to the surface according to that timetable, no matter how close they are to finding something cool.
There’s an incredible scene in Shadow Divers when, after months of effort, one of the guys finds a box that probably contains material that will identify the mystery submarine. It’s too heavy to move, so he’d have to look through it there. But his time is up. He knows that staying could cost him his life, so he swims away from the box and returns to the surface.
That was exactly like me at Ikea. Before we arrived, I mentally mapped the layout and had a long talk with the kids about my expectations for their behavior. I did extensive calculations based on nap schedules and hunger levels, and decided that we could stay for 40 minutes before it would all unravel. Sure enough, at the 36-minute mark, I found a great sale in the kitchen department. I could practically hear a clock ticking ominously in the background as I held up a gleaming salad bowl, and thought of what a thrill it would be to get a new dinner set at this price. But, like the diver, I knew my time was up. I saw a feral, wild-eyed look cross the toddler’s face, and I knew that it would cost me my life (or at least my ability to return to this establishment without police involvement) if I stayed. So, like the disciplined diver, I put the bowl down, and returned to the parking lot.
The trip was a success, and I give much of the credit to Shadow Divers. Because, like wreck diving, the key to surviving a trip out of the house with young children is to plan ahead and stick to your time tables.
Does anyone else find getting pedicures to be an utterly overwhelming prospect? I’ve only had two in my life, and I’m still recovering. I’m just going to be honest and say that I don’t understand how anyone enjoys this activity. There’s the fear that they’ll keep rubbing and rubbing with that pumice stone until they’ve passed the dead skin and are now drawing blood, of course, but what about the social interaction aspect of it? On the one hand, I can’t deal with paying for forced socializing. On the other hand, it seems awkward to ignore someone who is three feet away from you and touching your feet.
Is this an introvert/extrovert thing? Is there such a thing as introverts who like getting professional pedicures?
For the eight years that Joe and I have been parents, we’ve held out on getting a video game system. No Xbox, Playstation, or DS for us, thankyouverymuch. We had all sorts of high-minded ideals about the importance of kids spending their days staring at Netflix instead of playing mindless video games. (Wait…maybe the ideals were originally something else, perhaps involving books. I don’t remember anymore.)
Anyway, it hasn’t turned out to be the great solution I imagined it would be. Kids these days seem to be born knowing about the existence of video games, and will stop at nothing to find them. Our children have managed to find a wealth of free online game sites, and the result has been constant frustration. Even the kid-safe sites that I’ve approved usually have ads, regularly harass them (and me by extension) about creating logins or doing paid upgrades, and I worry about them stumbling across inappropriate content online that escapes our parent filter.
All that is to say: I’m thinking about getting a video game system. It would get rid of my worries about content, we wouldn’t need to worry about ads, and the kids could play games together. As hard as it is to believe, I think that getting a Wii or an Xbox might actually be a solution to my video game problems.
Are there any monasteries that have live feeds of the monks or nuns praying the Liturgy of the Hours? I love praying the Hours, and Joe and I were thinking that it would be cool to tie our family prayers to those of a monastery, especially if we could watch them praying in real time.
Can you believe that Fall is right around the corner? I’ve been trying to figure out what/how many activities to do for the kids, and I keep thinking of Dorian’s great post on the subject, in which she talks about how her family changed their views about organized sports in light of the realities of modern suburbia. Lots of good food for thought.
Thanks again to everyone who participated in the 7 for 7 challenge last week! I’m still catching up on your posts, and loving every minute of it.