Some families have philosophies like *perfectly imperfect*. Others just always seem *perfectly perfect* without having to say a thing. Still there are those whose maintain an above perfect air of family life that seems far beyond my grasp. I imagine these families have children who never fight. Mama’s who never become frustrated. When scrapes and bumps ensue children are coddled and loved indefinitely because there is never laundry to be done or a kitchen sink piled full of dishes. When purple popsicles are mashed into white carpet? A simple smile, an understanding of what its like to be a kid, and a silly sing-song while cleaning up is what happens in these families. All the while mama is in a perfect vintage dress with perfect skin and the perfect shade of red lips. She also has perfect teeth.
Daddy comes home and perfection runs through. The kids run to greet him and he swings them around with giggles and smiles. There is not a care beyond these little creatures and this moment of happiness. A family dinner follows where there is rampant conversation about all sorts of intriguing things. Mostly art and music and culture. Everyone eats their greens because they know that this pleases mama and its how we keep our bodies strong. Following dinner a family game of croquet is had where there is laughter which can be heard by all of the neighbours who are then envious of this obvious family bond. There are encouraging words and random tickles and children smiling from ear to ear and mama and daddy look on with arms around each other and feel so blessed by this whole scene.
That is what happens in your family, is it not?
This was what was suppose to happen in our family last night. I had the perfect vision of it in my mind. I set out for the grocery store early to pick up some favourite items for a great family dinner. I wanted everyone to feel just a bit spoiled and extra loved.
We would eat. We would laugh. We would play croquet.
Oh we ate. We played croquet, too. But we are the most dysfunctional lot and nothing like those other perfect families that all the rest of you have!
It started by my oldest son coming home from the waterslides with a horrible stomach-ache so we were one down for the family dinner. He spent it rolling and moaning on the sofa. Okay, whatever.
The rest of us could still have a lovely dinner. Souvlaki chicken and tzatziki side-lined by organic green beans with just that perfect amount of crunch to them. Add to that a lovely assortment of tomatoes cut up displaying their beautiful colours topped with bococcini and fresh basil leaves grown in our very own herb garden with just a sprinkle of balsamic vinegar. mmm. For the kidlets, an old fashioned bottle of creamy red birch beer and warmed foccacia bread didn’t fail to delight.
As soon as dinner was done the little’s raced their dishes to the counter and yelled a “thank-youuuuuu” on the way out the door to play with their friends.
“Hey!” I yelled. “I thought this was family night! Aren’t we playing croquet?”
“Yeah, mom. Call us in when you’re ready, ” one yelled while the other bellowed, “I never said I wanted to do that!”
The hubs and I cleaned up dinner and I settled on the couch deep into my iphone. I didn’t want to play anym0re. They didn’t even notice that this was a special meal. They didn’t want to hang around the kitchen while we cleaned up just to enjoy one another’s company. They wanted to bolt out the door and play with their friends.
My oldest boy was much more aware of what was going on here. He gently asked if we were going to play and I stated that we weren’t. If they would rather be out with their friends that was just fine with me. I’ll just crawl into bed with a book and do what I want to do too!
He went and rallied the troops and brought everyone in the backyard to play.
I looked at my husband and stated emphatically, “But I’m not going to have fun!”
I quickly got over it and the game of croquet began. It began with a loud pronouncement of, “I’ll go first!” and a “that’s not fair!” quickly followed.
It only went downhill from there. One son, whom was of course in the lead, was beaming. Had he not been, we all know he would have been in tears, but this was his moment in the sun. (Did I mention that it started to rain? Yes it did. We played on because we were going to have fun, damnit!)
As for the other boys we had to constantly, like, I mean after every turn, talk them off a ledge because he “sucked at this” and “couldn’t aim at all” and there were grunts and yelling and literal slamming of croquet mallets on the ground. There was complaining and pouting and smashing and whining.
I looked up at the mister and said, “What have we done?”
It was the most dysfunctional game of croquet possible. I was not okay with it being so and I would not place a mantra like *perfectly imperfect* on it. It was a gong show. Nobody seemed to be having any fun at all and if the neighbours were listening they would have heard the most ridiculous children who believe that EVERYTHING is a competition in which a status above all other brothers is to be attained. This was accompanied by two adults trying to be very patient but in the end this lost out. We were laughing only because it was that or cry. (or drink? or head to a place that is completely white and has padded walls?)
Croquet, in all of it’s beauty and dignity has been ruined for me today. I told the boys I may never play again. I’m sure you would never say something like that to your children, though. You would smile, in that always loving way and nod with an understanding of what its like to be a kid, and ruffle their hair and read them a story and talk of Monet and Vivaldi and sigh at the beauty of it all.
**Note: all croquet photos were taken earlier in the day during set-up. We certainly didn’t need a camera on this disastrous event.