Friday, April 5, 2013

Fun vs. "Fun"

There are certain child-centered activities that new parents soon find out are more "fun" than fun.  As in, fun in quotation-marks, should be real fun (used to be fun), but for various reasons, don't quite make the cut to being quotation-less fun.

Here are a few:

Playdates and Playgroups.  A bunch of moms and their kids hanging out at someone's house, the moms sipping coffee and chatting while the children happily play together?  This is perhaps the best example of "fun."  Because it should be fun.  It sounds fun.  But it's not really.  It is surprisingly draining trying to keep up a conversation with other adults while refereeing the children, feeding them, and otherwise [attempting] to keep them content.  Not to mention the preparation involved when hosting-- straightening up the house (i.e. scraping old peas off the floor), making yourself look presentable (i.e. shower), making sure to have decent snacks and drinks available (all-natural if not organic).  It takes me a day or two to recover from these.

Holidays.  Enjoying the fun of the Christmas, Hanukkah, Easter, etc., with children is one reason you have them, right?  It will be so fun to be Santa, hide Easter eggs, and dress up your kids in their cutest outfits for various family celebrations!  Sure, the day usually starts as real fun, but by 11a.m., the parents are dead-tired and the kids are hyped up on sugar, and it isn't even noon.  Let the clock-watching begin.

Vacations.  Yes, unfortunately, vacations with children also tend to fall in the "fun" category.  They aren't un-fun; they're just not the pure, carefree fun of your pre-kid life.  The "fun" starts with the packing, follows you to the security line at the airport, sits beside you on the the airplane ride...and continues when you get to your destination.  Will your child sleep in a new place?  Will you?  Will you decide to attempt naps (to avoid a cranky toddler) or skip naps (in a desperate attempt to "loosen up")?  Will your toddler get sick (yes)?  Ah, let the "fun" begin...

Music Class.  Or, really, any class that requires parent participation.  I've heard well-meaning (but clueless) people ooh and ahh about the fun I must have had taking my toddler to music class (yes, that's past tense;  since having baby #2 we no longer do classes).  It was all I could do to bite my tongue so as not to seem ungrateful (a SAHM must never seem ungrateful!) and to not rant about all the "fun" I'd have there, getting in a sweat chasing a two year old around as he starts pulling on the stereo cords or running out of the room (especially when I was 8 months pregnant with my 2nd baby).

Now, before casting me off as being cranky myself, let me explain that "fun" doesn't mean horrible.  It doesn't even mean not worth it.  It can be adorable and hilarious to watch your child dance and clap along with at music class.  And it can be uplifting to socialize with other moms during the day, even if playdates are more work than play.  And there is joy in watching your children gleefully wake up to their first Easter basket or stocking full of treats (even if it is at 6:30 in the morning).

I guess all this "fun" means that once we are parents, we must accept a new definition of fun.  Vacations, for instance, are no longer about staying out late, sleeping in, and reading on the beach all day.  They are about little sandy toes, splashing in the pool, and early morning sunrises.

Let the "fun" begin!

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