Tuesday, February 23, 2010

How to be a total drag

Let me just start by admitting this: I have been a total grump all day for no good reason at all. Just woke up on the wrong side of the bed, I guess, and we have run out of decent coffee. Despite our best efforts, we all have cabin fever, I'm stressed about some work stuff, and the kids are a little, shall we say, tired of each other. So it's been a rough day over here. Perfect day to be outside, running off the extra energy, breathing some fresh air, right?

After spending the entire day putting off the kids' constant requests to go outside (I was busy trying to get work and projects done around the house, and stay on top of some work-related email)-I finally relented just before dinnertime.

The kids gleefully pulled on their snowpants, boots, hats, mittens, scarves, etc, while I got the dog hooked up with her leash and "gentle leader" and pulled on my own boots.

Bringing along a huge dog who has been cooped up and is also tired of staring at the inside of the house. Not a brilliant choice, given my mood.

We trudged outside and I tried-I really did-to bump up my own mood a bit. The kids were pushing their strollers around on the sidewalk and laughing as the dog pushed her face into snowpile after snowpile. I managed a half-hearted smile, despite being totally annoyed at the dog, who is way too big and lively for my liking these days. The kids trotted along, singing, while Nina yanked me around on the icy sidewalks. I didn't fall but merely had my leg and shoulder ripped from their respective sockets when some guy with a Wheaten Terrier walked by and Nina went completely nuts.

After that graceful incident, we approached a huge snowbank. I mean huge. This is the pile of snow that's been plowed out of our neighboring parking lot all winter long. It's probably a story and a half high.

L set her stroller aside and started to size it up.

Me: "No, don't go up there right now. This isn't a snowbank climbing expedition. This is a walk. Now let's walk." (Feel free to insert your own impression of my crabby, irritated, whining voice.)

After hemming and hawing a little bit she finally gave in. We walked a little bit further.

"I know!" She yelled. "Let's just run around this parking lot for a while! That would be fun!" and so the children proceeded to ditch the strollers and run in circles in a parking lot.

I don't know what I did at this point, I probably let out an enormous sigh and rolled my eyes. (I know! What's wrong with me?!)

I grumbled and grouched for a while and then finally hit the wall when they found a shin-deep puddle of near-frozen water and started jumping into it, then sat down in it.

Most days, I would be fine with this. Might even encourage it. But today? Oh, Lordy, not today.

So where did I go wrong? I was thinking about this while making our dinner tonight (which by the way was also uninspired and underwhelming.) I talk with folks all the time about barriers to enjoying the outdoors with kids, and I think hit a pretty good number of them today. (Barriers, not people.)

I wasn't in the mood, first and foremost. But this one can go either way. Sometimes you have to get outside and start breathing the fresh air before you get in the mood. On rare occasions, even that has no effect. I did try to "suck it up" for the kids' sake, who were so hungry for the outdoors today. But I just couldn't seem to do it.

Next: waiting until the end of the day? Come on. Anyone with kids out there knows that the dinner hour is a tough one for everyone concerned. Meanwhile I was stressed about housework, and work work and what I was going to make for dinner and trying not to get pulled over by the dog. Sometimes it's just hard to let go of that stuff. None of these things felt so large or important this morning, when I was fresh, well-fed, and ready for a day of fun. Wish I had seized the moment earlier, when we were all in good moods.

Finally, I was cold. I had neglected to put on a hat, or mittens, or snowpants. I was wearing thin cotton pants and a coat. It wasn't brutal outside today, but the weather still warrants a fair bit of gear if you're going to be comfortable outside.

And here's the worst part: personally dragging my childrens' mood from elated to grumpy, in about ten minutes flat. Really, I had no idea how bossy and un-fun I can be! Sheesh.

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