Tags: Parenting, Party and Entertainment
Laws of inertia. A body at rest tends to stay at rest. A girl with a book wants to keep reading. A body in motion tends to stay in motion. A girl at play doesn’t want to sit down and read.
So, I am comforting myself that it is not so much that my daughter is defiant; she is just a victim of the laws of physics.
You see, it goes like this: Samantha will be peacefully reading a book. She would go on reading that book for days and nights on end if I let her, but at some point, after all, a child needs some fresh air and sunshine.
So, I will be the bearer of the unbearable news: “OK, time for some exercise. Get your shoes on.”
Whining. Complaining. Moaning. Throwing herself on the couch. “Do I have to? I’m sick! I don’t feel like it. I have a cough. Can you look down my throat with a flashlight? I think I have strep throat. I just had a fever. Maybe you should take my temperature.”
“That was a week ago. Put your shoes on.”
“But, I still feel sick.”
“Then your body needs to sleep tonight to fight the sickness, and you won’t sleep if you don’t get enough exercise. Let’s go.”
It will go on like this for minutes that feel like days. Then, at last, she will say, “Can I bring my book and just read outside?”
“Fine.” I always say that, because I know that the outdoors is her siren. Even if she can’t hear it when I’m telling her to put on her shoes, once we hit the door, the book will be forgotten.
Not that I’m against books. Once we are out in the sunshine (or clouds or rain or cold—it really makes no matter), it takes all of about twenty seconds before Samantha’s inner child emerges, and she is running around either being a horse or riding an imaginary horse that is either a stick horse, a scooter, or a bicycle.
From the moment the book hits the dirt and her feet start clip-clopping, I brace myself for the next battle against the laws of physics, which will occur when it is time to stop the motion and go inside. After what will seem to me like an eternity of horse play, I will give her a five minute warning and then a one minute warning. It is time to slow down. But she is in full-throttle, 100% imaginary play. Her face is red; her hair is pasted to her forehead with sweat. She is lost in her world of horses.
Me: “Time to come inside.”
Samantha: “No….!!! Five more minutes?”
Me: “No. Now. Come on. You can read your book after your shower.”
Samantha: “I don’t wanna read. I want to play.”
Inside I’m seething. I thought you had a sore throat. I thought you had a cough. I thought you were too tired to play. Out loud I say, “Nope. It’s time to start getting cleaned up for dinner. I need you to come in.”
And on and on until at last she gets her “horses” into their “stables” (aka the garage), and reluctantly comes in the house against her will.
I reassure her that I understand it must be “very difficult to be Samantha.”
“Oh, Mom. You have no idea. It is so hard.”
Judging by how hard it is to corral her inertia, I can imagine.