The unexpected rewards are the best

By Mir
November 17, 2007

There are times when I behold my children and wonder if they have been replaced by aliens who’ve never had a mother. Times when I find myself asking what it is they don’t understand about turning off a light or putting something in the hamper or not tormenting their sibling or waiting just a minute and not making my eardrums bleed while they do so. Those times, I wonder if I’m doing anything right, because clearly nothing is sinking in to their precious little half-formed brains.

And sometimes when these things happen, I say things to them like, “Can you hear me AT ALL?” or “Is anyone home in there?” or “DID YOU HIT YOUR HEAD?” You won’t find that in any parenting book, but I assure you that the alternatives which are close to falling out of my mouth are much worse, so we’ll pretend that’s not so bad.

Last night Monkey had a birthday party at a local bowling alley. The party was set to run a bit (read: lot) later than I normally have the kids out, but it was Friday night and a party so we were, of course, planning to let him go. As it turned out, yesterday was also pajama day at school (which, for whatever reason, made the entire day VERY EXCITING because PAJAMAS! AT SCHOOL!) and the kids went over to a friends’ house after school because I couldn’t be home in time for them.

[Digression: I went and spoke to a college class yesterday and I wanted to scoop all of those fresh dewy young things up and put them in my pocket and take them and their youthful enthusiasm home with me. So much fun. I’m beginning to understand why Otto teaches.]

So anyway, the point is that the entire day was VERY EXCITING what with the pajamas and the friends’ house and then staying up late to PARTY in the manner most befitting a pack of 8-year-old boys, which is to say doing POKEMON BOWLING! (Instead of putting their real names on the scoreboard, they all had Pokemon character names. That mother is BRILLIANT, as that made the bowling cooler by a factor of about a billion.)

I was, quite frankly, braced for the meltdown of the century from one or both children.

Instead, we got Monkey situated at the bowling alley, left and had dinner out with Chickadee—who was sweet and charming and hilarious for the entire meal—and then went back to the alley to watch the boys and do a bit of bowling, ourselves.

The boys were bowling with bumpers, naturally, but Otto and Chickadee and I opted to go for the real deal, which meant that for the first three frames or so, Chickadee didn’t knock down a single pin. I sensed imminent disaster.

And then that calm and encouraging husband of mine took my daughter up to the line and gave her some pointers and a pep talk, and on her next throw she knocked down a bunch of pins. And suddenly it was the greatest night of her life! We chatted up the whole “bowling like an adult” thing and she happily told Monkey at the end of the night that she’s learning how to bowl without gutter guards and that she LOVES bowling. When we finished our game she was invited to have a slice of cake in the party room, so her night was pretty much perfect.

Monkey kept coming over to our lane to check in or cheer us on, and reported that he was having THE BEST TIME EVER at this party. When it was time to go and goodie bags were being handed out, I somehow managed to pry him out of the clot of small boys comparing trading cards and encouraged him to say his thank yous and goodbye.

“Thank you for letting your son invite me to his party!” he solemnly told the birthday boy’s mom. “I really loved it!” She brought the birthday boy forward and he followed up with, “Happy birthday! Thanks for having me!”

We were ready to go, but the birthday boy threw his arms around Monkey. “You are the best boy here, Monkey!” he exclaimed.

Monkey smiled and returned the hug, then lowered his voice and suggested, “You probably shouldn’t say that in front of the other boys. We wouldn’t want anyone to feel bad.”

And then every adult in the vicinity melted into a puddle of goo, which made driving home a little messy.

For every night like that one, there’s countless others that are exasperating. But those nights do seem to outweigh the others, somehow.


  1. Beachgal

    Wow. Yay for great days. I think I’m due for one.

  2. StephLove

    This morning 6 y/o finally decided to tell us why he was screaming like a banshee in the back seat and it was because he couldn’t reach his book. When I reached back and handed it to him (I was in the passenger seat), he said, “Thank you, Mommy,” sweet as pie. You just never know when a little civilization is going to creep in.

  3. pam

    Be aware pretty Mir that I’m coming to spirit young dewy Monkey away… What a proud mommy you must have been. And kudos to dear Otto for the Chicky brightening!

  4. Angela

    Oh, wow that really is a wonderful day! Congrats… (Hormones maybe…but I’ve got tears in my eyes) It sounds like it was a miracle of a perfect day.

  5. Denise

    Heh. He’s a cute kid. :-)

  6. Lady M

    Wow, that’s a pretty perfect night. I would say that you’ve earned it!

  7. Debbie H

    Having shared the paragraph with our 8 year old about the POKEMON BOWLING, I have to tell you his exact quote is this “Awesome, that is soooo cool!” He is also quite sure they all had “legendary” names or something like that. Its a breed all their own. Thanks for sharing.

  8. Heather

    Aww so cute! I’m a little gooey myself, over here.

  9. Wendy

    I just melted into goo, too. I didn’t know little boys could be sweet. I think you have lifted my hopes. AWE!

  10. All Adither

    StephLove–I’m always reaching back to get things while I’m driving, how irresponsible is that?

  11. Daisy

    Sniff. Hugs to all four of you…what a memorable evening.

  12. Susan

    Yes, they sure do, don’t they. :D

  13. LuAnn

    Awww…better than a cuddly soft angorra sweater for snuggliness!

  14. Karly

    Awwwww! I love Monkey. He IS the best boy! For sure.

  15. chris

    it’s the ones that just get you from out of nowhere that stick with you the longest, eh? blessings all around!

  16. Contrary

    Ok, I have PMS and also the first ear infection of my life and it’s possible that I’m the tiniest bit weepy to begin with, but I sniffled and teared up throughout this entire post.

    Heck with it. I’m going back to bed.

  17. Sheila

    Kids. Sometimes they ARE all they’re cracked up to be, ain’a?

  18. Heidi

    Wow. It sounds like they’re settling very comfortably into their new lives.

  19. joaaanna

    Now just how am I supposed to continue my day when I’M a puddle of goo?

    Wonderful… melt, melt, melt….

  20. Deputy's Wife

    That is a great story mom! You have some great kids. Give yourself a pat on the back too mama!

  21. jen

    Awww…I could use a sweet night like that here pretty soon. Before my ears bleed off and I leave my sons at the zoo, I mean. ; )

  22. Burgh Baby's Mom

    If it weren’t for all the exasperating days, I don’t know that we would enjoy the gooey ones as much as we do. But I could still go for just a few more gooey days each week.

  23. Brigitte

    Oh, that Monkey!

    And good Otto, he’s learning how to handle that Chickadee. Though you have alluded to the fact that she is a mini-Mir sometimes, maybe he’s had a lot of practice with YOU (ow, stop kicking me)!

  24. Amy-Go

    I have a few here who could take a lesson…

  25. Aimee

    Just… awwwwwwwwwwwww.

  26. Jessica

    That is oh so sweet… though I do think you have the right attitude. When you expect the worst the best ends up being so much sweeter!

  27. Jen

    Awwwwwwwwwwwww! That boy is so well brought up :) (and that girl of course).

  28. Kelly

    Sounds like a great day – and no melt-downs = bonus!

  29. amy

    Oh dear, that’s just breathtaking. Darn those cute children and their wily ways!!!

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