The snow finally melted a few weeks ago, and as we surveyed our backyard, we realized children are disgusting.
Trash. Trash everywhere.
Toys that crumbled under the pressure of a cold, wet winter.
“Who’s raising these kids?” I asked. “And why isn’t there more supervision?”
So on the first warm day of the season, when coats were unnecessary and shoes optional, we flung the doors wide and fled the house with a firm determination to clean the backyard.
The kids had already been playing outside for an hour, and when we handed each child a trash bag with instructions to remove the filth, they were in heaven. Something about being outside after a long winter must have lit a fire under them, and they scurried all around the yard to fill their bags. We swept the porch and threw away errant branches.
When it was all done, we stood back and looked at our new backyard, free of debris with patches of grass already determined to be green, and fell in love with our clean corner of the world.
Daylight Savings Time had just given us an extra hour of sun, and so we decided to reward the kids for complaint-free cleaning by playing together as a family.
“Let’s play soccer,” we thought.
“It will be fun,” we thought.
That was a mistake.
As soon as we announced our plan, one child fell to the ground in agony. “But I don’t want to share the ball!” came the scream.
“OK, but we’re going to play,” we said, and set off with the rest of the family.
The screaming child calmed and joined our game, expertly stealing the ball from a sibling.
The sibling now took a turn to fall to the grass in despair. “I had the ball! That’s not fair!” came the cry.
My husband and I looked at each other, and rolled our eyes. We KNOW they don’t behave this way at school, but home is supposedly a safe place where they can freak out, I guess. (Eye roll)
“This is soccer,” one of us explained while the game continued at the other end of the backyard. “You’re supposed to try and steal the ball and protect the ball. Get it?”
All together again, the ball bounced around amidst our running feet when a child again fell to the ground in misery. “The ball hit my leg! It hurt!” came the tears.
“This is sports,” one of us explained. “In sports, you get hurt sometimes, but you just have to shake it off.”
As the explanation was happening, another child took the ball and dribbled it down the backyard.
Oh, the tears this action produced!
I was ready to shout, “Suck it up, princess!” when I remembered articles I’ve read about empathy.
So I hugged the child until she was calm, and then explained the mechanics of sports once again. It worked (and was a lot nicer than eye rolling). She finally understood, and ran off to steal the ball.
You can guess what happened to the next child once the ball was stolen.
One more hug. One more explanation.
Finally, everyone understood. And nobody complained.
Just in time for the setting of the sun.
We rolled our eyes.