This Month's Topic: Focus on Finance

When a Good Thing Becomes Too Much

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Brayden and his bike

Today, I was determined to be outside as much as possible. That was my goal. It was one of the first days we’ve had this year where we could be outside for any length of time without wearing multiple layers or enduring multiple shivering fits. And the day certainly delivered: the sun was out, the weather was warm, the playground was calling our names. Anna and I picked up Brayden from school and headed to the park with lunches packed. We met some friends, ate lunch and the kids ran and ran. And ran. It was truly glorious watching them run and play.

After two hours, I was sad to see our park time end. The kids were so happy. I was so happy. Why leave? Then, I had an idea. We would stop for ice cream, skip nap time entirely and, after a quick stop home, head back outside to play. It was a perfect plan. What could go wrong?

As it would turn out, plenty.

We’d only been outside riding bikes for a few minutes before the cracks started to show. Anna whined because she needed a push. Brayden wiped out, his bike landing on top of him. Anna, after receiving her push, stalled again and started crying and pointing toward the garage for another toy.

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Anna running circles around the tree

At first, I was patient. I picked Brayden up, wiped him off and fetched Anna another toy. But no sooner had I set Anna’s tricycle down that she was whining again that she was thirsty. Luckily, Brayden was happily occupied with his bike, so I led Anna up to the porch and gave her a drink from my water bottle.

“Mommy! I want a drink, too!”

It was, of course, Brayden, who had, of course, seen me giving Anna a drink of my water bottle and wanted one, too. I sighed but yelled “OK,” then winced as he let his bike fall in the middle of the street and ran up to the porch.

After taking a drink, Brayden disappeared into the garage and came back with his wiffle ball set, which wouldn’t have been a problem except that Anna, of course, wanted to play, too, and there was only one bat. She screamed and swatted at him, he squeezed her arm hard, and she started crying.

“We take turns, kids! We take turns! Are you both tired? Was this a really bad idea? Should we go in and nap?”

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Anna crying on the porch swing

Both kids wiped their noses and shook their heads “no” in reply, but I had my answer. The red flags were all around me. I should cut my losses now and retreat inside. But the sun was still out, the grass was still green, the day was still full of promise.

“OK, kids, but if I hear one more person whining or crying, we’re going inside,” I warned sternly.

Anna immediately jumped onto the porch swing and started crying that she was hungry. It was over. I needed to concede defeat. I glanced longingly at the spot on the grass I’d been eyeing as the perfect place to curl up with my magazine and turned to tell Brayden it was time to go in.

But Brayden wasn’t there. He was back on his bike in the middle of the street.

“Brayden! Time to go in!”

“I don’t want to go in, Mommy!”

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The kids where they belonged… at least at that point in time.

I could understand how he felt, but Anna was still on the porch whining – loudly – about being hungry, so I marched into the street, helped Brayden off his bike and shepherded him up the driveway. “Time. To. Go. In.”

Finally, I had the two of them inside the house with the door closed behind us, white flag raised and waving.

“We’re hungry, Mommy. We’re hungry.”

I peeled and cut up an apple and deposited Brayden and Anna in front of the TV with bowls in hand, happy to leave them in front of their ever-welcoming old friend for a bit.

My plan had been good, that couldn’t be denied, but it was also inherently flawed: I should’ve kept nap time. Too much exertion without rest leads to crankiness. Apparently, for kids, too.

 

 

 

 

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