Monday, December 8, 2014

An Oasis in the Midst of a Long, Cold Winter

As winter settles in on the Midwest, it becomes increasingly difficult to devise ways to avoid cabin fever.

I asked the boy to describe how he felt about Daddy; he ran
and grabbed this laminated paper. He's a smart, smart child.
This is true for anyone and doubly so for toddlers, with their endless energy and indefatigable desire to always go, go, go. These traits don’t simply disappear because the days grow shorter and the air turns colder.

Nope. There’s got to be an outlet for kids and their never ending drive to dash away, dash away, dash away all.

In our home this frequently means heading to the basement where we have a table with scores of wooden pieces of trains and tracks and little houses and animals.

The boy enjoys the trains, but he equally prefers pressing the buttons on our old TV and DVD player — located just a few feet away — which he turns off and on for minutes at a time.

So, it’s a regular occurrence for the boy to ask his mother or me, “Wann go choo-choo?”

But, what “Wann go choo-choo?” really means is: “I’m tired of hanging out in the family room or the kitchen; let’s try something different.”

The boy gleefully boarding his favorite attraction. I couldn't
say why he liked it so much — nor do I really care.
But the basement is only different for so long. Eventually it too loses its mystique and Mrs. Blackwell and I can’t be the sole stokers of his interests — nor should we be.

So, we’ve got to change it up and this past Saturday we did just that by venturing out to the local children’s museum.

If you’ve got a toddler and you’ve got one of these miracles in your town, use it. For the better part of 90 minutes Mrs. Blackwell and I followed the boy around as he hop-scotched from one amusement to the next.

There were slides, ladders. Blocks to push. Ropes to pull. Wheels to turn. Water to put your hands in or watch swirl round and round and round. There was a giant screen featuring Pong. Yes, Pong.

For his part the boy found his way to an old airplane cockpit, retrofitted with a bunch of space-agey lights and buttons. He stayed inside of that thing for about 20 minutes.

That's a human-sized hamster wheel and that's my wife setting
her dignity aside and turning that sucker for all it's worth.
Twenty, beautiful, beautiful minutes.

During that time, Mrs. Blackwell and I sat, chatted and mostly watched the world go by.

“The world” inside a children’s museum is probably what you’d expect — a collection of desperate, tired, frustrated parents and some, like Mrs. Blackwell and I, whose kids mercifully found some point of interest that held them captive for minutes at a time.

Like each of these little discoveries, the good times are fleeting. Reality awaits. Grocery lists must be crossed off, piles of laundry must be, well, laundered, and Christmas decorations were — still — waiting to be hung.


But, we’ve found our reprieve and, God willing, it will take us through March because we don’t have the room for rope swings, slides and Pong in the basement.

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