Monday, June 28, 2010

It caught me by suprise...

We had finished our morning rituals and were about embark on our day. Sometimes I really enjoy the nonsensical, so I had to ask TroubleMaker a question:

“What are you dreams? What do you want from life?”

He thought for a moment and then looked me straight in the eye. He said “Hab mommie milk a night.”

True story!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Women are from Venus, Men are from Toys'R'Us

There are a lot of things about raising a kid I don’t know. Breast feeding and properly dressing wounds are skills I haven’t developed.

There are things I can learn. I can learn to prepare something to eat for TroubleMaker. Although it is difficult to call my creations meals, we do end up with something to nourish us. I have learned to change diapers, bath a child, kiss an ‘owie’ and clean up after he has been sick (sick all over the bed, me and the bathroom). I have learned not to get sick at the sight of someone getting sick.

There are some things I did already know and they may yet come in handy. I can eat for a week using a single pot and a spoon. I can lube the chain on a motorcycle and not get oil on my dress shirt. I can get a Jeep stuck in the mud, while wearing dress shoes, on my way home from work. And I can play. When I boil water it may take a hazardous waste disposal team to deal with the aftermath and diaper changes may ultimately lead to the dreaded poopy blowout, but I can play.

I remember what it was like as a child to be exposed to new toys and have to draw conclusions about their play worthiness. Would it do what I wanted, which should not be confused with was advertised or even what it was designed for. How would dirt affect the toy? How would water affect the toy? How about mud? A child does not just browse the Sear’s Christmas Wish Book.

I also remember the toys that were fun. They allowed us to think outside the box, or at least outside the packaging. They could withstand hours of play and usually did not give us lead poisoning. We were constrained only by our imaginations and the interfering hands of our parents.

So last year my mother-in-law gave TroubleMaker a wooden train set for his birthday. It was an inexpensive one from a local supermarket. It was inexpensive only because my mother-in-law knows how to shop, and it wasn’t branded with some expensive trade mark. We have since added an expansion pack to it and TroubleMaker gets loads of fun out of it – ‘PAY TAINS’ seems to be his favorite refrain.

We can set it up, play for a few days then tear it down. A few days later we set it up again with a completely different layout. TroubleMaker contributes his own ideas to each layout and we have loads of fun. After a while there were some unsettling incidents.

TroubleMaker is an equal opportunity playmate and will draft either my wife or I into playing trains with him. We run the trains around the layout, set up the bridges after he knocks them down, run the trains around some more, wrestle, set up the bridges again, and so on and so on and so on. One night my wife was playing with the TroubleMaker and the trains and asked if we could get some more accessories for the set. I naturally wanted to know what sort of accessories. I am very frugal, sometimes, and the thought of a train shed or turntable scared me. They are expensive. My wife wanted some buildings. Why? So when the engineers parked their trains they would have some place to go for coffee and talk. Go for coffee? Talk? This is not how boys play. Talk? Then it wouldn’t be playing it would be talking. Since when are boys supposed to talk? They yell and scream. Talk? They charge, run, and tackle. Talk? They build and destroy. We do not talk.

Clearly my beloved wife did not understand the point of trains but hours of intense play therapy on the floor with TroubleMaker have taught her how he plays and how boys play. She has even learned to design her own layouts with TroubleMaker. Still, at the end of evening, when it is time to park the trains on a siding and whisk TroubleMaker off to bed, they still call it stopping for coffee. I suppose it doesn’t really matter as long as everyone is having fun.

Maybe play at that level is not as natural for women as it is for men, or maybe I am not as far removed from childhood as I thought. I don’t think I will pose that question to my wife.