Category Archives: Obsessive Compulsive Mama

Toys, Games, and Activities I Loathe (A List!)

I recently accidentally deliberately let half a dozen containers of Play-Doh dry out on the kitchen table so I could throw them out. I know what you’re thinking. The Internet is chock full of instructions on how to revive dried Play-Doh. What you need to understand is that I don’t want to save it. I want it to die dry so I can get rid of it and never have to play with or clean it up again. I don’t appreciate the mess it leaves on every surface and floor in my house or the anxiety it causes when the colors get mixed together and, despite my children’s pleas, can’t be unmixed, which got me thinking about all of the toys, games, and activities my kids force upon me that make me wish I were prepping for a colonoscopy instead.

1. Play-Doh. (See above.)

2. Bubbles. Bubbles are perfectly fine…at someone else’s house. At my house, bubbles make fingers sticky, which make doorknobs, floors, windows, chairs, tables, and refrigerator handles sticky. Bubble machines, wands, and other poorly manufactured bubble instruments always break, and bubble fluid always spills because someone with clumsy little hands wants to do it “all by myself.”

3. Monopoly, including but not limited to, Cars 2 Monopoly, Monopoly Junior, and Star Wars Monopoly. These board games (as well as most others) almost always result in a child quitting and/or walking away with important game pieces and/or crying because he doesn’t win.

4. Any toy smaller than my thumb, including, but not limited to, Squinkies, Zinkies, Drifters, Trashies, Fighter Pods, and Bonkazonks. These teeny tiny toy terrors, which are meant to be collected, end up lost instead only to be found later inside a shoe, the washing machine, the DVD player, a backpack, the tooth brush holder, the trunk of the car, or all of the above. They are manufactured for one reason and one reason only: to drive Mamas crazy.

5. Elefun. This delightful preschool game challenges toddlers to use nets to catch as many colorful butterflies as they can that blow out of a friendly elephant trunk. It’s tons of fun for the whole family…[insert record scratch]…until it’s time for Mama – on her hands and knees – to collect the uncaught butterflies that are scattered all over the floor and put them back inside the elephant and start the merriment all over again. And again. And again. And again. Case closed.

6. Swings. Before I continue, I want to point out that I’m a good Mama. I am. I often say this (or write this) when I’m about to do or say (or write) something that might seem, well, un-motherly. Here goes. I don’t like pushing my kids on the swings. It was okay when they were babies, but by the time they were toddlers, putting them in the swing was less about enjoyment and more about confinement. (FYI: Saving a toddler’s life every 30-45 seconds in an obstacle course of dangerous playground equipment is exhausting.) Now, after six years of Mamahood, I’ve earned the right to sit on a bench while my children push each other on the swings (reason #249 that I birthed more than one child). Would you like me any less if I told you I had a “Don’t ask Mommy to push you on the swings or we go home” rule? Nevermind.

(I’m a good Mama…I’m a good Mama…I’m a good Mama…)

7. Lincoln Logs. Every time the Lincoln Logs come out, I’m instructed to build the log mcmansion featured in the building instructions. Adding more misery to an already dismal predicament, they want to help. By “help” I mean, hinder, thwart, and sabotage. When the Lincoln Logs come out, I answer phone calls from 800 numbers.

8. Video Games. I can’t help it. The mere thought of playing Lego Star Wars for the Xbox makes me want to fold laundry.

9. Paint. My dislike for paint is more about timing than anything else. My children almost always want need to do an art project at or before dawn, when I’m handling raw meat, while I’m chopping onions (and coincidentally already in tears), or I’m in the shower.

10. Puzzles. This one is complicated. I actually like puzzles and am happy to do them with my kids for several hours minutes. That is, until I discover a puzzle piece is missing. Then Obsessive Compulsive Mama takes over and I want to hurl the puzzle out the window because a missing puzzle piece is totally and completely unacceptable.

11. Powered riding toys. Every time one of my kids takes our battery-powered Lightning McQueen for a spin, we lose a sprinkler head.

Ironically, despite my annoyance with extreme dislike loathing of several categories of toys and games, my house is filled to the gills with them. Hmm.

For the record, I love being with my kids. Most of the time. This is starting to sound bad, isn’t it? Please tell me you hate some toys, too. (Please.)

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Filed under colonoscopy, games and toys, Guilty Mama, list, Obsessive Compulsive Mama, toys

I Quit…Sort Of

I went to Riley’s teacher conference at school today.  There’s a whole checklist of cognitive, physical, social/emotional, language and arts/music/movement items that they either check off or not.  Examples are: waits for turn, holds crayon age appropriately, walks up/down stairs appropriately, follows directions and communicates using words.   Unless there’s something going on with your two-year-old, it’s mostly an opportunity for the teacher to tell you how cute your kid is.

Riley pretty much aced his checklist, except for knowing his colors (I’m not worried), jumping (he tries so hard but just can’t get both feet off the ground at the same time!) and going to the bathroom by himself (this Mama is happy to hold off on potty training – and her sanity – for a while longer).  His teachers told me he’s wonderful, nice, sweet, caring…everything Mamas like to hear.  

She said if she absolutely had to critique Riley in any way, it would be that he doesn’t have the initiative to clean up after himself.  For example, after he finishes eating lunch, he says “I’m done” over and over again until she clears his trash or helps him do it.  I was immediately reminded of one of Dylan’s teacher conferences last year when his teacher said something eerily similar…that Dylan would sit in his seat after lunch and wait (while pouting) for someone to clear his mess.

This realization produced a big, huge ah-ha moment for me (or more accurately, an oh-crap moment).  I spoil my kids.  I’m not in denial.  They know the difference between right and wrong (almost) but they have no idea what to do with a Swiffer except play tug of war until I take it away.  Dylan is definitely learning independence (dressing himself, squeezing his own toothpaste and, God willing, washing his hands after going to the bathroom, etc.), but I don’t make the boys do anything around the house.  They make messes wherever they go, and I follow them with toy bins, laundry baskets, wipes and a dust buster.

Around Mother’s Day this year, Lisa Belkin published a piece on her Motherlode blog called “Why Moms Should Quit.”  The piece, with insight from syndicated radio host and author Mel Robbins, suggested that putting school-aged kids to work at home is good for them now and will make them better off in the long run.  Modern motherhood shouldn’t require mothers to bear the full burden of housework, and kids (and husbands, especially ones who always leave their dirty socks on the floor in the family room…just sayin’) could learn a lot from realizing how capable they are of doing all kinds of things around the house. 

I thought the piece was interesting when I read it, but I admit I also thought it was absolute crazy talk!  Who would know the difference between Dylan’s socks (little) and Riley’s socks (really little)?  Who would line up the milk and yogurt from oldest (front) to newest (back) in the refrigerator?  Who would load the mountains of BPA-free plastic just right on the top rack of the dishwasher?  There is no question my house would sink into the ground and I would end up at my own feelings doctor if I weren’t there to take care of (and complain about) every little chore.

Well, as of…right now…I’m changing my tune.   My boys are a little young to let loose with detergent in the laundry room or with a hot pan on the stove, but they’re not too young to put their dirty clothes in the laundry basket, bring their plates to the sink when they’re done eating and put their %$#&@ toys away before they go to sleep!  (Sorry, the toy thing is sensitive for me.)  And I could certainly benefit from letting go of the obsessive-compulsive ways I demand everything be done (see previous paragraph).  I’m a nut case!

I hereby declare I’m quitting…sort of.  I can’t relinquish all of the housework to the boys (and men).  They are young still, and child protective services (and possibly a divorce attorney) would knock on my door within a week.  I can start small, though, and give them some chores and, of course, a chore chart with stickers.   (Dylan has already happily requested construction truck stickers.  I don’t think he realizes yet what he’s so enthusiastically getting into).

Effective immediately (May 16, 2011), Dylan and Riley are responsible for the following daily chores:

·      Putting their dirty clothes in the laundry basket

·      Bringing their plates, cups and bowls to the kitchen sink/counter when meals are over

·      Putting ALL toys away before bedtime (Argh!)

I’ll post a picture of the new “chore chart” once the masterpiece is complete.  This is an excellent new art project for Obsessive Compulsive Mama!  By the time I have the boys’ teacher conferences in the fall, I hope to hear good things about their new cleaning-up skills.  Oh yeah, and all that other academic stuff, too. 

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Filed under aha moment, chore chart, education, Obsessive Compulsive Mama, school