The ‘fun house’ on the block

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Some folks have the house on the block where all the kids play. I have the house on the block where people send their children to find out how good their health insurance really is.

Ours, I am told, is a “fun house.” Not in the literal sense of mazes and crazy mirrors (although, come to think of it, a shape-distorting mirror would explain a lot about my figure these days).

No, we earned this “fun” destination because visitors can sled on our sledding hill, ride bikes and roller-skate inside the barn in the winter, or swim, jump, tramp through the pasture, forage in the woods, and play in our creek come summer.

Destination

As you can well imagine, our house is a destination for many of our children’s friends. Due, in part, to the statistical inevitability that the sheer amount of time spent here will inevitably up the chances that one will eventually succumb to a scrape or bump — we have been host to an impressive array of mishaps over the years.

 
Our home has been the site of a broken wrist (jumping), a broken collarbone (sledding), numerous bee stings, bites, scrapes, and a spectacular birthday party injury involving my son’s 11-year-old friends thinking they could stand on the circular side of a barrel to peer through a glass window. They couldn’t.

The item rolled, the glass broke, and one boy put a serious gash in his thumb. Too bad they don’t teach physics in the fifth grade.

Perhaps then the boys could have seen that one coming?

Reconstructing the scene in order to teach the boys a valuable lesson in “where it all went wrong,” I wasn’t much concerned with the barn window. I was, however, concerned with the very bloody thumb.

Expressing my disbelief over what they could possibly have been thinking, it suddenly occurred to me that they hadn’t been thinking much at all. Therein lies the problem.

If 11- and 12-year-old boys were all that capable of making well-thought out decisions they would probably have been granted the right to drive, vote, and live on their own by now. They aren’t, so they don’t.

This then is the reason I keep a healthy supply of Band-Aids on hand as well as the telephone numbers of all their parents on speed-dial.

Smother

My point is that while I love being “the house where all the kids play” this is not an effortless endeavor. I seem to spend a lot of time explaining to people how their kids got that bump, bruise, mark or scratch.

Still, on days when my “smother mother” switch is flipped and I start to fret over every move the kids make, I find it helpful to step back and remember that wrapping kids in cotton wool and hovering over them every minute probably isn’t all that healthy in the long run either.

In an era when too many parents view roller-skating, bicycling, and even walking down the sidewalk as “too dangerous” to even contemplate, it’s tough to find that happy balance between climbing a tree — and falling out of one.

In fact, whenever I hear another tale of a homeowner forced by their insurer to remove a trampoline, I wonder why more homeowner’s policies don’t decree the removal of every last climbable tree?
In my day, I didn’t know anyone outside of the circus who owned their own trampoline. I did, however, know an awful lot of kids who fell out of trees.

I am not, of course, advocating that we start shoving children out of trees “for their own good.” I do, however, stand by my assertion that fresh air, sunshine, and yes a little dirt and a scrape now and then is good for a child’s soul.

It toughens up a parent quite nicely too. I can rinse a bloody cut on with nary a whimper (from me). My patients — and patience — seem to hold up very well too.

As summer wanes and I tally our wound toll, I do hope to remain the house on the block where all the kids play, even as I concede that along with all the fun and friendship we are probably going to have a few bumps, scrapes and bruises along the way.

All I can do is watch, worry, and hope, with fingers crossed and first aid at the ready, that the bumps are minor, the bruises heal quickly, and only the happy memories leave lasting marks.

Trust

Fortunately, I’ve been blessed with many like-minded friends. It really is a wonderful testament to the parents we know that despite our track record, they still trust us and keep sending their children back to play. Either that or they really aren’t that crazy about those kids.

Kymberly Foster Seabolt wishes everyone a safe — and active — remainder of summer.

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Warm, witty and just a wee bit warped, Kymberly Foster Seabolt is a native of Kent, Ohio, who survived childhood exposure to disco and grew up to marry and move to the country. Her column weaves her special brand of humor with poignant, entertaining, and honest portrayals of parenting, marriage, and real life. She currently lives in northeastern Ohio with her husband, two children, two dogs, two cats, and numerous dust bunnies who wish to remain nameless.

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