In my enduring fight against child boredom, Africa-hot heat, a general decline in creativity, and my son's continuous quest for trying to find new ways to make squeaking noises using only the palm of his hand and his ear canal, I ended up impulse-buying one of those paddle string, bouncy ball toys in the Target checkout lane. You know, the toy with a teeny tiny mildly-bouncy ball attached to the end of a six foot long string. The string is attached to a paddle that actually just resembles an over sized wooden spoon - got it pictured? If I could only count the number of hours of enjoyment my children have squeezed out of that toy.... okay, not hours... maybe a few minutes... anyway, it has taken up a few more minutes than I had anticipated - which was the objective.
At first, it was just an instrument of torture and pure frustration. Just getting the ball to pretend that it was going to cooperate was the first order of business. Then facilitating some sort of control was next. The only thing the bouncy ball was hitting was some unassuming bystander's forehead, the dusty wreath on the wall, or the knuckles of the toy's operator. But slowly, as the frustration eased a bit, I started to hear hits that led me to believe someone was actually making that stupid ball make contact with that stupid paddle. Then came the sound of hits in succession - a sure sign that some mastery was taking place. So I cranked my neck around to the corner to casually view this boredom-busting activity. This is where the part about the unassuming bystander comes into play. Yes, I was accosted by the bouncy ball part of the paddle toy. The good news is that the string has a wee amount of elastic in it that made the amount of time the ball made contact with my forehead just a flash. The bad news is that the *@#!* ball in not, indeed, made out of "bouncy." I am certain that it is made out of cement.
Okay, so now the bear had been poked. It wasn't enough that I had been desperately trying to instill some self-startedness with my children and putting out fires left and right all morning with them over issues like, who would take responsibility for the plastic boomerang now resting comfortably on the roof of our neighbor's garage, or who ate the last ice cream sandwich, or - my favorite - why they are not allowed to watch sixteen, consecutive hours of Scooby-Doo. And now, as a reward for my Mom-of-the-Year efforts, I was to be beaned smack in the forehead with the very toy of destruction that I willingly brought into our home as a means of simple, innocent entertainment. Nice.
So the swelling has subsided, and forgiveness has taken place. But here's my little piece of revenge - which really doesn't even make that much sense: I was in a book store this afternoon for just a few minutes when it happened. A very determined nine-ish-year-old had just become the proud owner of one brand new (you guessed it) Paddle Ball Toy of Torture. And as he was leaving the store, wildly practicing and desperately trying to make that ball bounce on that paddle, his "unassuming bystander" mom out in front of him, took a hard curve ball to the back of her noggin. And...wow... did she unleash the fury! Every single inappropriate word, phrase, and threat I had wanted to unload on my children just hours before was now being vented quite loudly out into the open parking lot for everyone to witness. And for some odd, unfair, reason, I felt better.
That's not so much a "silver lining" as it is little story about how this mom survives and (if not a little spitefully) enjoys parenthood.