It’s Sunday, and I’m in the library. Alone. The reason for this being that I refused to play a game for two hours with my husband and children.
The game in question?
I’ll say that again in case you didn’t quite get it. Frisbee. Golf.
That’s not to say I didn’t try to play. I did. I participated for about twenty minutes, running pathetically to catch the Frisbee. Getting annoyed when Tess lost one of the Frisbees in the river. Complaining loudly when I finally caught the annoying flying disk, that the hard plastic “hurt my hands.”
Twenty minutes I persevered before I stuck out my lip like the whinge bucket that I am and whined:
“Why don’t you just drop me at the library?”
“What’s the matter with you? It’s fun!”
I’m putting the exclamation mark there because that’s how he said it to me. Brian, the perfect game playing dad. All fun and excitement. The very word. Fun. It makes me nervous.
“Yes Mummy, don’t be so boring. Why don’t you ever want to play games with us?”
Sod off Tween. Looking all lovely in your shorts and your high ponytail.
Making me feel like an old biddy.
Stop siding with Mr fun and look at my red raw knuckles. Look at the sweat under my arms because I insisted on bringing this granny fleece.
They gave in. I got driven to the library which conveniently is just five minutes drive away.
“Let’s just go back and play for a couple of hours by ourselves. We’ll pick Mummy up later.”
Let me tell you; this was not said in a sympathetic way. She practically kicked me out onto the pavement.
To be honest, deep down, I was secretly hoping that they would decide to abandon the idea of Frisbee golf, knowing that I wasn’t going to be joining them. But, I kid you not; I saw smoke coming from the wheels of the van they sped away so fast.
And so, here I sit. With a handful of smellies and three foreign students.
It’s a beautiful day, sun cracking the flags, and where am I? In a stifling library, attempting to write a blog post. I’ve straightened my chair, three times. I’ve looked twice at the closed cafe in the corner. Sighing loudly and rolling my eyes dramatically at the inconvenience of not being able to get an overpriced cup of tea. I’m resisting the urge to pick up my phone and text them to see if Sonny has been smashed in the face with the Frisbee and needs his mum.
No. Don’t do that.
It will be good for the kids to spend time with their Dad. Without sourdough trailing behind them. My tweens words start to creep in. They ring in my ears. Ears that are now getting hot from other people’s breath.
“Why do you never play games with us?”
She’s right. I think back to when they were little. Those dreaded words that would turn me cold.
“Mummy, can you play a game with us?”
Oh, God. Oh no. No.
“Mummy’s just going to pull all the hundreds of sheets and pillowcases out of the airing cupboard and then pretend to put them all back in some sort of order. I know, why don’t you get your dollies and put them all to bed under this washed out dirty looking grey sheet and watch them until they wake up? That would be exciting wouldn’t it?!”
Or even worse. In the car.
“mummy, shall we play eye spy?”
Shit. We’re driving from Bath to Cornwall along the motorway. There’s only ever going to be T for tree or C for car.
“I know… Why don’t you two play ‘the first to speak’ game?!”
Clever, inventive, mummy.
No wonder these rich parents employ clowns and jugglers for their children’s birthdays. It’s not because they’re loaded. It’s because they don’t want to admit that they hate playing games with the little buggers.
It’s not just games that involve children that turn me sour. No. They’re bad enough, but, the thought of adults playing games together without children present? Well. That just takes the biscuit. Why would full grown mature adults, who, quite frankly should know better, want to play a bloody game? Have they never heard of wine? Or bed?
I sit here, in the place that only saddos come to on a sunny Sunday, and contemplate why I hate games so much. It’s not as if we don’t have millions of games of which I could at least try and find a flicker of joy, We do. They’re crammed into what is supposed to be the printer cupboard (I know, posh aren’t we?) They spew out onto the floor every time I sneak open the door to get a piece of paper or the stapler. Annoying pieces of wooden rectangles mixing up with yellow counters and that little dog out of the monopoly or worse still, the saddle from Buckaroo. It just adds to my game hating anguish.
And I know what people will say,
“They won’t be around for long, and once they’re gone, you’d do anything to play games with them.”
No, I won’t.
I can’t see me sitting there, old and grey- well just older and no longer dying my hair- with the sudden urge to play Frisbee golf with my children. Anyway, they’d be about forty, and by then, they too will be middle aged and bitter like me.
I’m one of those people that others call, ’a bad sport’. I’m not in the slightest way competitive. Not like Mr Fun and my tween. I don’t care who gets the first frisbee in the net. It’s boring.
From what I gathered in my whole twenty minutes of participating, the only fun thing about playing golf frisbee is purposely throwing the frisbee away from the target and making someone else go and fetch it. This way, you get a few minutes respite, in which you can either, kick some grass, have a nose around at what other frisbee golf players are doing –usually nothing because they’re too busy being boring- or go and read the rules board. Again.
Way da minute though. Before I fall head first into the pit of parenting doom, pulling you down with me, I must remind myself, and my children (you’d better be reading this) of a couple of points.
Granted, I may not be the first to put my hand up for ‘Guess Who” (they’ve all got bloody beards and glasses, even the women.) But, let us not forget the “fun” things that I do play with you. You see, the best type of games are those that you don’t even know you’re playing. That’s the trick. These aren’t organised games my loves. These are the games of life my chickadees.
Here are a few forms of entertainment that only mummy can do. These are; ‘Mummy’s kind of games’
• I can sit for hours talking to you about a film (if it’s British), or documentary that we have just watched. I’m then able to turn that into a writing lesson without you even noticing what I’ve done. Tah Dah!
• How about when I took you to that shipwreck with a pen and paper, and you took turns in writing a line of poetry about it until we had that crazy, beautiful poem?
• Or the time I Blindfolded you both, putting your hands into the bag to feel raw livers and kidneys to enrich your lesson on the sense of touch. Maybe I shouldn’t have mentioned that one. Now that I say it out loud, it makes me sound a bit freaky, and to be perfectly honest; I think it scared you for life)
• Getting us all in the car and chasing the sun for the best view of the eclipse. We drove for an hour pretending we were like that woman in Twister (well I did. You just wanted an ice-cream)
• And I absolutely loved taking you to that ancient woodland in the snow and pretending that we were in Narnia. (And yes Tess. I know. You started crying because I told you that your real parents were dead and that I was your new Mother from Witch kingdom, but come on, it was still a fantastic game)
So, there you have it. Each one of those ‘games’ gave me an enormous amount of pleasure, but not one contained a dice, or rules, or a Frisbee.
Apparently, it turns out that we are different. Game lovers and I.
Had I asked my game loving husband,
“Hey Bri, fancy walking two miles across the beach and writing a funny poem about that old ship?” he would probably have muttered something along the lines of,
“Ermm … I think Liverpool’s playing this afternoon and I’ve got to clean my van out. Then there’s the airing cupboard to sort…”
Aren’t we all, every single one of us different? Talented? Unique?
How boring to have the world full of people with similar personalities, with the same likes and dislikes. All wanting to play Frisbee golf. Or sit on slippery rocks with a wet bum, writing poetry.
I think it’s time to embrace those things that we are good at as parents, instead of focusing on those that we are not. Or those that we simply don’t enjoy. For me, its games, others feel bad about not liking cooking or exercise. But let’s stop giving ourselves such a bloody hard time because we can’t be the perfect everything. Love doing everything. Participate in everything. We’re good enough, more than good enough, and our unique strengths and talents add to societies bubbling concoction of beautiful and diverse personalities. Each of us able to offer something that another person can’t. If Hungry Hippos is your idea of fun, fantastic! If not, fantastic! (call me, now. We need to be friends).
Well. The library has indeed made me feel very philosophical. I must come here more often on a Sunday. I’m going home a new woman. (God help them).
I can only hope that my children remember this.
Their mother may well have been a miserable cow when it came to frisbee golf. But she did a bloody good party trick with a pack of chicken livers.