It is Day #9 of Quarantine and I’m completely, utterly depleted.
My feet look like sausages and my energy could be trumped by a corpse.
Still, I’m proud of myself for not relying on television or the computer to fill our 13-hour-long days. I have, after all, killed myself to put down big boundaries around screen time and I’ll be darned if a little swine flu is going to wreck five years worth of work.
In fact, I’m proud to say that my five-year-old twins and I have invented all kinds of new activities which we just might return to after we’ve been sprung from captivity.
Then again, some ideas were born of complete desperation.
Remember, now, I have thirteen hours to fill each day, so be kind in your criticism.
Laundry Train: Each child loads a small plastic wagon with folded laundry then makes “stops” to drop off their “packages” at various “stations.” When the “train” is empty, it must return to the depot for a refill. Making train noises is mandatory; those who ram a sibling on the tracks with their trains must go to the round house for repairs.
Funeral Director: Lots of critters fall into our pool and endure an untimely death, but lucky for them we have caring professionals on hand during their time of need. Using a net, the child scoops said party out of the skimmer, notes time of earthly departure, chooses a backyard burial plot and digs a grave. Nondenominational prayers are said. Weeds are planted.
Boutique Owner: Using various scraps of gift wrap, the children choose a “gift” from our playroom “store” and swaddle it. The more sticky tape employed in the endeavor, the better. Each present is then delivered to a deserving stuffed animal.
Bus Boy: Making meals is a lot of fun at our house, but no one ever wants to clean up the 45 spatulas used in cooking. Hence the birth of “Bus Boy” in which “waiters” earn big tips (Tootsie Rolls left over from Easter). The booty is dealt out based on the amount of items each child takes to the sink and scrubs. Waiters at “five star” restaurants not only scrub, but classify their dishes by type, material and color in the dishwasher.
Historian: In this game, I ask the kids to give me an object and I detail how it came about. This has lead us to discussions about the ancient Roman Empire (coins and aqueducts), an explanation of clogged arteries (why french fries are a “sometimes” food), the origins of rubber and protection of the Brazillian rain forest (car tires). (Note: This game has been curtailed due to the limitations of my liberal arts degree.)
Scatologist: Children go forth in the backyard wearing rain boots to identify animal poop and make educated guesses as to what the animals recently consumed. Close examination of poop in home bathroom potties is not encouraged but, alas, often discussed.
Dancing with the Stars: Children dress up and perform “routines” to various mixed CDs. (Possible parent bonus: You get to listen to your own music! Downside: You might have an obsessive child like my son who is currently jonesing on Lisa Loeb’s compilation of kiddie camp hits. You will also have to explain why everyone on the T.V. show is nearly naked all the time.)
Furniture Movers: Children push, pull, flip over, de-cushion all major pieces of furniture in the house, including antiques bequethed to you by your late grandmother. The aim is to “re-arrange” things and “make them new-ish.”
Name the Baby: There is much debate over what we’ll call Baby #3 (a girl). Competition over who can come up with the most ridiculous name affords hours of fairly quiet contemplation. Options now include “Hen,” “Wren,” “Sven,” “Violet,” “Pillow” and “Shoe.” (Potential downside: You have to get pregnant again.)
“I went to the store…”: Lay out this starter phrase and let the children add on details. The point here is to be silly. We’ve purchased pink elephants, 497 bottles of nail polish, wigs for dogs, beavers.
Swiss Family Robinson: The children unearth rope from the garage and tie it around all remaining Easter baskets. Next, they climb to the top of the swing set and loop the rope around the roof. Snacks and/or dinner can be pulled to the top of swing set. (Parent bonus: No dishes!)
Santa’s Sleigh: When it begins to rain–and invariably it will do so for days at a time during your next quarantine–bring the rope inside. Loop the rope around folding chairs allowing lots of lead rope to dangle in front. Have one child play Santa and the others the reindeer. (Do not attempt this on hard wood floors.)
Drive Mom Crazy: Try laying down for a well-deserved 32-second nap on the couch and children will immediately find ways to interrupt your slumber. They will find forgotten feathers to tickle your nose, alternately pull at your toes, sing song about poop and drag chairs to the pantry to plow through bags of baking chips.
Julie continues her swine flu quarantine due to physician recommendations. She will either go completely insane or more likely write an award winning parenting book entitled, “Mom, I am bored!” Burb Mom promises to be the first to promote it. Until that time you are going to have to check out her blog, Chocolate Covered Pajamas.