Being the Fun Parent is Overrated

img000622On Sunday I mentioned that, among other things I learned while my husband was gone, I am not a fun parent.  So I was all over it when I got a Tweet from Kim yesterday morning saying, “Hey — Shan and I are taking the kids bowling this afternoon. Want to join us? You can be the fun parent!”

I love it when someone else makes the plans and all I have to do is come along for the ride.

We made plans to leave at 12 noon, so at 11:45 I started barking orders at the kids to turn off the TV, get dressed, get their shoes, brush their teeth, and TURN OFF THE TV ALREADY!  No one was moving fast enough to suit me and before I knew it I was anything BUT the fun parent.  I was the yelling, nagging parent.

Finally at 12:20 we loaded into the car, and as I backed out of the driveway I did a quick Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde transformation and announced cheerfully, OFF WE GO!

Who knew that acting ability was a requirement for parenting!?

Lunch with five parents and 12 kids was a zoo, but I only had to visit the bathroom with my children once, so there’s that.  Plus I enjoyed a delicious black bean, blackened chicken and spinach quesadilla.  All it was missing was the margarita.  Of course it was noon.  Any.  WHO.

Finally we arrived at the bowling alley.  It was a pretty good time, overall.  The kids had a blast — except for poor AJ.  He kept crying, and at one point Shannon looked at me and said, “Remind me the next time I decide to have a fun family outing…”  She didn’t have to complete her thought.  We all agreed that reality is never as idyllic as the vision you have in your head when you plan the event, but I think we were all glad we went just the same.

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We left the bowling alley to find big, fluffy white flakes falling from the sky.  For a snow-starved girl such as myself, this was a sight for sore eyes.  As I drove home I reveled in the winter wonderland.  Of course we live in an area of Pennsylvania that rarely sees enough snow to build a snowman, so as I made my way home I was soon reminded how foolishly people drive in the snow.  They were creeping along like it was a sheet of ice, not just a wet snow.  Right as I began to disparage Pennsylvania drivers, my own car started to skid.  That was when I realized that it may just be snow, but the roads were treacherous.

I slid a few more times, and my anti-lock breaks sprang into action.  Soon there was a long line of cars in front of me as we carefully navigated a hill.  The roads hadn’t yet been treated for some unexplainable reason.  (This snow was not news.  It’s been snowing off and on for several days.)  We crept along, and I slid around a bit but was able to maintain control.

The car in front of me, however, was not having such good fortune.  It was an older sedan, and she was fishtailing like nobody’s business.  As we crested the hill and started to creep down the other side, we came to a complete stop, and I noticed a long line of cars stopped in the opposite direction as well.  I waited for the car ahead of me to proceed, and she proceeded alright — she slid right across the road and into the ditch on the other side.  Fortunately the cars in the other direction were stopped far enough away to avoid a collision, but the sedan was stuck and stuck good.

That left me to figure out what to do next.  I was afraid of joining her in the ditch, but I couldn’t sit there and hold up traffic all night.  My car was not handling the conditions very well, and for all of my earlier bravado, I am out of practice when it comes to navigating snowy roads.  My four years living in New England are a distant memory.  I sat there, debating, until finally someone from the other side got out of her car and started waving me towards her and making gestures to imply that I was some kind of simpleton.  That was the nudge I needed, so I decided to take a stab at it.  I put my car in low gear and crept down the hill, praying out loud the whole way.  I managed to stay in my own lane until I got to the bottom of the hill and headed towards a main road.

Before I got home, I saw another car in the ditch with a telling tire trail across the snowy road.  The driver was standing outside of his car, smoking a cigarette, so I assume he had called for help.

Finally I pulled into our driveway, and we thankfully clamored out of the car and into the house where the kids donned their snow gear and returned outside faster than I’ve seen them move in a long time.  Which just goes to show, they can move when they want to!

And I learned one more thing — being the fun parent is exhausting.