“Want to play dance ball?”

One of my favorite things to do as a mom is eavesdrop on my kids when they’re playing nicely and using their imaginations to create their own fun.  The day before school started back for my big second grader I overheard him ask my soon-to-be-kindergartner, “Hey, do you want to play dance ball?” In turn, she curiously asked him what that is.  He went on to say, “We take turns dancing, and if the person who’s the watcher doesn't like the dance, they get to throw a ball at the dancer.” 

While it sounded like a rollicking time to me, it was hard for me to refrain from putting the kibosh on this game as I feared it would end badly, but I held my tongue and chose to spy on the game from afar unbeknownst to them.  I justified this, because the ball that “the dancer” was being pegged with by “the watcher”was one of those virtually weightless ball pit balls.  While I have a rule of no throwing things in the house, I let this slide.  After all, it was the last day of summer break, and there was no arguing going on & no one was crying yet.

You’re probably reading this wondering where exactly this story is going and anticipating a bad ending involving some sort of sibling rivalry just like I was as I played Nancy Drew in the corner; however, I am proud to announce that my kids played nicely whilst dancing, judging each other’s moves, and fairly taking turns hurling a ball at one another.  Also, I’m proud to announce that I let them proceed.

I have a tendency to be an overprotective, overbearing, over the top sort of mom.  I wish I could put my kids inside one of those large inflatable hamster balls for humans and let them roll the earth and the halls at school as opposed to traversing on their own two feet with their ceaselessly bruised shins.  I think it’s okay to think this way, but as they get older I am learning that I have to let them grow and let them go.  GULP.

The following day after the nice game of dance ball I drove my son to school all of 2.23 miles for his first day, because of course, I’ve deemed the bus no longer safe even if the ride is only 2.23 miles and he rode it for nearly two years.  After some issues on the bus, Mama Bear was done with her cub being bullied, punched in the crotch, and getting into trouble for fighting back on a bus with a driver who’s unfortunately too focused on maintaining a tight schedule that there’s no time to manage behavioral issues properly.  I mean I do want grandkids, and I do want to feel like my child is in good care when he gets on that thing.  He was consistently being seated by fifth graders in the back that he started to emulate and was seeing who knows what back there.  I vividly recall my thirteen years as a bus rider, and while I have some fond memories, I had some experiences that I don’t care for my son to be exposed to just yet (or ever).  Again, I’ll be the first to tell you how flawed and overbearing I am (my poor kids), and if your child rides a bus I’m sure it’s safe and you’ve made a sound decision.  I’m just an overprotective freak fed up with the issues on my kid’s bus, and dear hubby is even more of a freak than I am (love you, babe!).

The bus is definitely more convenient as opposed to lugging my portly one year old into his five point harness and corralling my sometimes feral brood into my personalbus, but we gain thirty extra minutes of sleep/wake up time by driving.  It’s nice, because I’ve never felt rushed to get him to school on time.  With my bear of an anti-morning person sonwho has to be told a minimum of five times to eat his breakfast - that wake up time is key to survival. I’ve become partial to my bus as opposed to the big, loud, stinky,seatbeltless, yellow one which actually was 40+ minutes late the first day due to mechanical issues.  I do miss the morning social hour at the bus stop, but I’ve deemed the bus stop unsafe, too.  There’s new home construction, semis, questionable contractors, bull dozers, trees being crunched within twenty feet of the stop, and too much time for antsy kids milling about which can lead to drama, refereeing, and cold coffee.Again, I’m overbearing and need to get over myself.  Honestly the bus stopbegan to feel like more work for me, so kudos to the parents that can get there on time and hack.

Anyway, prior to loading up my bus the first day I gave him the choice of walking in on his own or having his siblings and I accompany him to his classroom.  He surprisingly chose to diss us and go stag.  He was like, “I know where my classroom is, and I don’t need you to walk me there.”  I’ll admit my heart felt like a needle had pricked it, but I gulped, honored his choice, delivered him to the front sidewalk, and watched my boy walk in with his little head held so high.  Ugh…he suddenly looked so big to me, and my heart hurt.

You know these moments?  The ones where you look at your kid in utter shock at how much they seem to have suddenly changed.  I mean I know growth is a slowly gradual process, but seeing your second grader and noticing that their limbs are long, have muscle tone, and their new permanent front teeth look too large for their mouth is really stupefying.  I mean just yesterday I was rocking this baby boy to sleep.It’s hard to accept that your babies are growing.  It’s hard to let them grow up and go.

I fear this year will be the one where I’m no longer allowed to hug him in front of his friends, because it’s not cool to hug your mom and what not.  I fear that this year will be the one that image becomes something that he’s aware of, and the images lacking in wholesomeness that our media leads our kids to think are cool are actually terrifying to us parents.  I don’t want my kids thinking it’s cool to be lewd like the pop and rap stars that do or say anything for a buck which our culture tends to throw in our face everywhere we look.  Don’t get me started about the recent VMA’s.  Blah.

I recall who these icons were when I was a kid, and how I lived for MTV.  I was a lucky third child whose older siblings had cornered our parents into getting cable on our wooden sided remoteless television.  I also recall how I was chastised by a neighbor mommy for innocently rolling around like Madonna at about the age my daughter is now.A friend and I were creatively playing a dance game (not dance ball) where we were giving her mom a concert.  The album we were playing was Madonna’s debut album circa 1983, and you can guess which song we played, cluelesslylip synced and danced around to.  That neighbor mom promptly stripped our hands of our hairbrush microphones and pulled the plug on concert by scratching my record (or maybe it was actually my big sister’s record that I had borrowed – whoops!).

As a mom, I now know it takes a village, and that villager did a good thing.  I’d be mortified if my daughter acted like Madonna, Britney, Lady Gag-Me, or heavens forbid, the new, not so improved gyrating Miley.  I’ve used my overbearing ways as a villager and stopped neighborhood kids from doing/saying inappropriate things, and I fully expect my fellow village parents to regulate on my kids, too.

I try hard to shield my kids from the crap that’s all around us, and most parents I associate with do this, too.  It’s impossible to cover their little eyes & ears from everything and so conflicting as a parent.  I am unaware of what is going on in the world most days, because I also refuse to turn on the news.  They don’t need to see war images, hear about horrific crimes that our media sensationalizes, etc. and if my television comes on at night while they’re sleeping I’m watching some mindless fluff to help turn my brain off for the day.  I know we have to introduce our kids to the sad real world at some point and should also let them maintain some level of cool, but it’s not in my overprotective Mama Bear nature.

Maybe I need to strike up a nice game of dance ball with our media, but maybe a harder, larger ball would be more effective in this game?!  Maybe I should just carry a ball in my bus, too, just in case I encounter one of those senseless scantily clad pop stars out here in the sticks.  Any other parents want to play dance ball?  Come on, you know it’d be fun to knock some sense into the stars your kids look up to!