One of my favorite quotes was/is "Ships are safe in the harbor, but that's not what ships are made for."
It is less a guiding principle the past five years than it used to be, when I had much more freedom (to charge cool trips on the Visa) and little purpose. I reactivated it again today, though, and not in a small way.
I got out the Play-doh.
I thought Carrie would be impressed, and I was right. Actually, between you and me, I think she was a little aroused by her beloved getting all crafty. I've told her before I'm just not going to glue, stick, cut, fold, draw, paint, shake, bend, tape, or mutilate quite the way she did when she was Mrs. Mom. Not gonna do it.
I'll take the kids to the park, with none of her girlfriends to help out, and have no problem getting them in and out of the gym and the pool; I've started bathing them; diapers?--please, I've been changing those for years; I'll whip up some cereal, with milk, and cut up an apple, too. Been known to do a little laundry.
But I hate messes, and crafting=unnecessary cleaning. So, coloring books and crayons have been about it since Daddy took over field ops. Occasionally, I'll draw some lines on a piece of paper and harangue Maggie into improving her fine motor skills with scissors. Nothing wet, though, no way, uh-uh.
Tinker Toys, multi-colored blocks, Lincoln Logs, movie after movie, yes; finger paint, Elmer's, creativity, no.
Carrie pleaded with me a couple times, saying the kids need stimulation, what are you going to do in the winter (um, go outside, sled, make snowballs, push each other down), yadda yadda....but honesty is the bedrock of some relationships, I mean our relationship, and I said, "Sorry, it's probably not going to happen."
A couple of weeks ago, Carrie accidentally bought a pack of 24 cans of Play-doh while grocery shopping with Maggie. I don't like Play-doh, mainly because of its smell. And once you get all the spaghetti-making machines and hamburger-grinders going, that crap gets everywhere.
But, I did it. After all, technically, it's not even moist, right? So, down went the plastic tablecloth, and Gavin, Maggie and Darcy each got two or three colors (Connor was with a same-aged buddy blowing shit up in the loft). Once I showed the darlings how to squoosh it, they were naturals. I helped them along by showing them you could tear off pieces and make multiple lumps, or you could flatten the main lump with your hand for a pancake--but don't eat it! Ha ha ha.
The craziness picked up when I couldn't find Carrie's cookie-cutter shapes collection, so I started handing out things that were definitely not sharp knives. And when I gave them the mashed-potato implement, the one with the flat surface and multiple holes, the shrieking commenced.
The only break in the fun was when one of them would drop a chunk on the floor, and I would get in their face and yell until they picked it up. In this way, there was hardly any mess at the end, and I think we'll do it again in October.