Saturday, April 28, 2012

One of The 940 Saturdays


Hank's weekend job is going to birthday parties, and my job is wrapping the gifts and driving him. Today was a double header. The first party was at Chuck E Cheese.

At 9:30 in the morning.

I know. I know! Who does that? I laughed when I got the evite. I laughed because I thought it was a terrible idea and yet I knew I'd be getting up earlier on a Saturday than I do during the week and driving fourteen miles so that Hank could attend.

But you see, Chuck E Cheese is like Hank's Paris. He enjoys the place rhapsodically, he vows to return more often in the future, and he is sure that he is really his truest, most essential self when there. I could not stand in the way of that.

I came in, said hi, saw him busily setting out with his pals and his tokens, and then I left and ran an errand. I came back in time to see them bust a pinata full of tickets and spend their last tokens and it was still way more Chuck E Cheese than I wanted. The whole economy of tokens-tickets-little toys is depressing to me. But I am not here to bag on CEC. A mommyblogger griping about Chuck E Cheese is like an 80's comedian talking about the bad food on airplanes. (There used to be food on airplanes!) Nah, I'm not judging the Chuck, I'm just observing that it was the way it was. He had a blast. And I will say that at 9:30 in the morning, the place is clean and calm-ish.

Then we had a couple-hour lunch break at home before heading to the next partay, which was at Hank's karate place. THAT was a hootenanny and I literally spent about three minutes inside. When I arrived back at the end, all of the kids were exhausted and sweaty. It had turned into some kind of pre-K Crossfit. That was at 4:30. So Hank put in a 9-5 day of birthday going.


There's a little tidbit floating around on the intersphere about there being only 940 Saturdays between when your child is born and when he leaves for college. If your child is five, 260 of them are gone. I know, let's just sit with that for a minute. Click on that link--the Jezebel article has a graphic that makes it easier to grok. And yes, really, 940 is a big number. That's a lotta days! But it's more that there even is a number--that our lives with our children don't stretch out forever and ever in front of us like it seems when they're very little.

(I anticipate that my dad will be along in the comments to tell how he had this realization--that we have finite days with our children--when he was taking my younger sister to college. I don't know why MY leaving home did not occasion this thought, heh. We should ask him! But I mention it not to jump on your story Dad, but because I thought of it when I read this.)

This 940 Saturdays thing comes from Harley Rotbart's book No Regrets Parenting. I'm not likely to read it--I think I get it--but if you do, tell us if it's good. I mean, I am not like a guru of Parenting Zen, but I feel like I do okay with not feeling bogged down in the hard details and instead enjoying the passage of ordinary time with these guys.

Back when I was doing my cancer treatments and was scared and thought about dying more, I used to play a little game. I would ask myself, at some random point in the day, "Okay, if all of life were this moment right here, right now where you're trying to adjust Laura's watchband or waiting for Hank to put on his second sock, if this were the last and only moment forever, is it good? Is it enough?"

I never felt perfect fulfillment in those moments--like a resounding "YES" that would make a great ending for this blog post--but the self-questioning became a habit of mind that was its own comfort.

Goodness. I started at Chuck E Cheese and where did I take us? I've said it before, but man, daily blogging.

Hope your Saturday was good.


Elizabeth said...

I'm excited to be the first commenter here, and I'm so impressed at where your mind takes us in these daily posts. My CEC days are over, thank the good Lord, but baseball Saturdays have taken their place. As for the treasuring every moment, I actually try to do this quite often -- even when they're bickering. I can almost throw myself into the future of silence and cleanliness in the house and miss these days.

Cassi Renee said...

I know I am a terrible mom --I long for the empty-nest days. Yesterday I cleaned my living room, removing all kid-created "decorations" as I dusted. Ahhh . . . . so nice.

And why, if so many of us think that the tickets-stupid-games-tokens-stupid-plastic-toys-that-will-be-trashed-next-week is NOT GOOD, are there so many parties and fun fairs where that is the whole point?

delaine said...

Beautiful post, Becky! Once again you've captured the essence of parenting. Realizing the fleeting nature of childhood. I remember once when one of y'all were babies I said something like,"I can't wait until Becky can sit alone or sleep through the night or whatever." and my mother said that I was wishing away my life. That struck me . We all do it sometimes. I also remember Amy saying once when Gracie was little that the days sometimes pass slowly but the months speed by. Thanks for letting us into your Saturday. Enjoyed it so much!

Keely said...

I have never been to CEC. Honest.

And our Saturday was lovely. None of us left the house. We baked something and played recreations of Nintendo 64 games on the PC. Lotta moments yesterday.

Beth said...

Like Keely, I've never been to a CEC. But we have a local place here that I imagine is similar, maybe catering to a slightly older kid, that's an arcade and a mini golf place and batting cages and has that whole token-ticket-stupid garbage made in China economy. We always laugh about how it takes 10,000 tickets just to get one of those plastic guys with the parachute attached.

Becky, I am totally serious here, I actually CRIED when I read this. I am honestly in awe of your insight and your ability to voice it.

Is it enough? Brilliant.

Judy said...

I am agreeing with the other comments; I love where your posts take you (and us!). I vote that you continue to blog every day. :-) I did the CEC thingy when my kids were small and find I'm in with another generation. Only my massive love for my grandkids would get me back into a CEC, but they do love it and will soon outgrow it. And Hank's friend may have had to have the party at 9:30 because all the other blocks were filled. I know Reagan's was at an odd hour because of that issue. It is a happening place!

britt said...

I also cried when I read this post! My older son turned five years old this month! But he hasn't been to CEC yet, so I guess we still have that to look forward to. As a kid, I preferred Showbiz Pizza Place; it was truly a perfect place for a kid.
You write beautifully!

Veronica said...

We just had our first venture to CEC since my own childhood. Oh, lordy. I don't remember enjoying it all that much as a kid, and it is definitely much, much worse from this perspective.

And, your mom's quote from Amy describes my life perfectly right now: the days sometimes pass slowly (and that last hour of the day before Daddy gets home from work? Snail's pace...) but the months speed by.

AlGalMom said...

CEC is not my most favorite place, either, although once, in a moment of weakness, my husband and I took our kids there and he and I ended up using the majority of the tokens we bought and having a rip roarin' good time. So.

Along the awkward birthday party scheduling line, we've had a couple in the past year set for 10am on Sunday morning.

Yesterday my husband and I went out to lunch with our 3 year old, and it was so sweet to be just a trio again (normally we are a sextet). Even sweeter, somehow, than the beginning when we were three, I think because we have learned to just enjoy our kids, and not fuss over them (mostly). But it drives home the realization that childhood is fleeting.

AlGalMom said...

also, @britt, I always thought that Showbiz Pizza was the "east of the Rockies" version of Chuck E Cheese. Same slogan, same jingle, if memory serves.....which sometimes it doesn't :)

Camp Papa said...

Everyone knows that there are a finite number of days that your children will live under your roof. It is too obvious and self-evident to warrant much thought, much less articulate. But, there is a huge difference between knowing a thing and suddenly having the full weight of it in your gut.

Christian said...

I enjoyed this immensely. And, while reading, I realized that I'm internalizing Korean culture, because the whole time I kept wondering why your kids weren't in school on Saturday, because Saturday is a school day.