When mom is a poor sport, everyone loses
posted by: gretchen
Over Spring Break, our family traveled to the capital of Colorado’s left coast and my hometown, Grand Junction.
One of the biggest attractions in the region is a family fun center called Bananas. It has a mini golf course, go-carts, a huge enclosed pavilion packed with bounce houses and slides, batting cages, an arcade, laser tag, and a snack bar. Because Grand Junction doesn’t boast Denver-levels of things to do, we always visit Bananas when we visit.
The kids get windblown, sticky, drenched, and dizzy from go-cart fumes. In other words, they have a blast. Usually, I stand back, watch, snap photos, and fret about injuries. This time, I was inspired to join in more of the fun.
“Inspired to join in more of the fun” is one way to translate the phrase “I am not pregnant during a visit to Bananas.” Our previous visit in July? Pregnant. Before that? Pregnant. Before that? Pregnant.
It wasn’t particularly warm when 9 of us climbed into the colorfully bobbing bumper boats. Temperatures were in the upper 60s with a slight breeze. The baby stayed ashore with my mom. Our toddler rode in my husband’s boat. Our preschooler tagged along with our oldest son. The other 4 kids and I had our own boats.
I envisioned zipping around the large pool, bumping into the kids, maybe squirting them with my water cannon. Good times, happy smiles, lotsa laughs, this not-being-pregnant-at-Bananas thing is awesome!
I motored out into the open water.
I didn’t know I was a tender, succulent medallion of medium rare tenderloin.
I didn’t know my children were wolves.
I felt a stream of water hit my side. And then another stream hit the back of my head. Another hit my face. With slight panic and disbelief, I realized my children had completely surrounded me. On every side, they blasted and cackled as I screamed. The water was cold, the wind blew, and there was little room for escape. I was so wet, I couldn’t see as I powered my little boat out of the ambush to the far side of the pool. Mistake! Mistake! Mistake! My offspring, the people I bore and tenderly rocked at 3am and endured Alvin and The Chipmunks for followed me.
I begged them to leave me alone. I couldn’t believe my folly. Of course kids would seize the opportunity to Drench Mama when it was presented to them. If I was going to join in their game, I was going to be an equal.
I don’t expect them to go easy on me when we play UNO or Mario Kart or Apples to Apples. I don’t let them win, either. But for some reason, I expected a 3-hour cruise.
This time, I got the shipwreck. The tiny ship was tossed.
I’m sorry to say I wasn’t a very good sport.
They cornered me. I invoked my authority and loudly snarled STOP IT NOW! Through sheets of water running down my face, I saw them turn away. It was less about mercy and more about remembering I’m the one who decides bedtime and is nice enough to buy Macaroni and Cheese in cartoon shapes on occasion.
I was no fun. No fun at all.
My bumper boat carried my shivering body back to the edge of the pool. I grabbed a rope, clipped it to the boat, and hoisted myself onto dry land. The kids continued assaulting each other with chlorinated water. My husband and toddler stopped shortly after me. They were mostly dry.
I stood in the sun to dry off, feeling ashamed.
If one of the kids had a meltdown because they were sent to jail (do not pass Go), I’d send them away from the Monopoly board. If they flung a controller down because Toad launched a Koopa shell at their Kart, I’d announce the end of the race.
Be a good sport! It’s one of life’s many lessons. Nobody likes poor sports, but our society seems to have a rather large contingency of those types.
On that drippy day at Bananas, I remembered how awful it feels to be a winner at losing. Maybe it will give me more sympathy when my kids express frustration at their own defeats. There’s a graceful way to handle life’s trompings, but it’s not always easy to muster.
Now hand me a towel.