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Synchronized Parenting

photo credit: splityarn via photopin cc

“We used to play ‘Chicken’ with lawn darts,” the guy sitting next to me said.

“That’s why stores don’t sell lawn darts anymore,” the woman next to me commented wryly.

Our children were at synchronized swimming practice, and the parental conversation had begun innocently with television shows from the past. I’m not sure at what point we moved from the Partridge Family to lethal lawn darts, but with three men in the group, the conversation quickly degenerated into ridiculously dumb things everyone did as kids.

It turned out that most of the dumb things were done by the men.

Like filling up the backseat of your car with snow, then driving around the neighborhood and flinging snowballs out the window.

Not quite as dangerous, I grant you, as driving around, lighting fire crackers in your car, and throwing them out. Even more death defying when you forget to open the window, as one of the men admitted.

I rode my bike without a helmet. Oh, and once I let myself fall from the second floor balcony of our apartment. I say that I let myself fall because I had planned to jump from the railing. But when I saw how far down that would be, I did not relish the thought of breaking my legs. So I dangled from the railing and let go. That was about the extent of my self-imposed, death-defying feats.

Listening to the men relate all of their childhood adventures, I wondered if I had missed out by being an overly cautious kid.

But then I remembered the time I dropped a sparkler on my bare feet, and I’m pretty sure I was just smart enough to realize, at a very early age, that when I tempt Fate, Fate invariably burns me.

It is kind of amazing, when you think about all of the safety rules we make our own kids follow – rules that didn’t exist when we were growing up – that any of us made it past puberty.

I wonder if our own kids, brought up without the joy of dancing between falling lawn darts or trying to put fires out in their laps, will rebel against their “safe” youth and decide to run amok while their children, left alone, start leaping from second floor balconies.

Maybe I should lighten up and let my daughter do something unplanned and unsupervised a little more often.

Or just not let her date.

I Should Stick to Eating Bon-Bons and Looking Pretty

I made an amateur matrimonial mistake today.  I don’t know why I haven’t learned this in the almost 12 years that I have been married, but maybe confessing it will make it less likely to happen again.

Marriage Rule #37 – Never undertake a really hard “house” project unless your spouse is there to witness it.

You might question the wisdom of this rule.  But there are several reasons for it.

Here’s the scenario:  you decide that you will surprise your spouse by completing a monumental task that you have both been procrastinating.

In today’s case, the task was to box up and move everything out of our 11 foot high wardrobe, which needs to be disassembled before the crew comes to do our concrete floors.  I thought it would be nice of me to empty the wardrobe while the Cap’n and Dimples were out of the house for a few hours today.

WHY THAT ISN’T A GOOD IDEA :  O.K. Well, the primary reason that you should never do this, Kids, is because the work is always far more grueling than your spouse will ever appreciate it to be.  If your spouse cannot see the huffing and puffing involved in performing this work, and the pain and suffering that accompanies it, then you will never reap the rewards you deserve for it.  You will get about the same gratitude as you get for cleaning the toilets.

THE SECOND REASON IT ISN’T A GOOD IDEA:  I should have learned this about 11 years ago when we were in our last house.  Back then, I decided to surprise the Cap’n by taking down the 70‘s era wallpaper in our bathroom while he was at work.  In order to do this, I had to remove a wall-length mirror that hung over the counter.  I stood on the counter to do this and pulled the mirror off of its hangers.  I gently set it on the counter.  It promptly broke in half.  The far half careened toward me, nearly chopping off my nose, and found a nice landing place in my right hand.

In summary, the second reason for not doing anything harder than dusting the shelves when there are no witnesses is that you might inadvertently kill yourself.  And, if you do that, you really will not get the appreciation you deserve for your massive undertaking.

Of course, I didn’t take these factors into account until I was standing on a stepladder precariously balancing a ridiculously heavy box that I had grabbed from the top of the wardrobe.  Wonderbutt was energetically bouncing into the side of the ladder, wondering what great new chew toy he was about to receive.  As I worked hard not to tip the box or myself onto the hard floor below, I remembered Rule #37.  And that spouses are not very grateful for surprises that end up including trips to the Emergency Room.

I’m surmising that my Guardrail Guardian Angel (who takes care of me when I am on the road) was well-rested because I hadn’t driven anywhere today, and decided to help me defy the laws of physics, gravity, and bull-headed bulldogs in order to make it to the ground safe and sound.

I learned my lesson, though.  From now on, I will not attempt anything life-threatening when the rest of the Firepants humans are not around to witness my demise.

That just leaves me more time for blogging, anyway.

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