Spontaneity is the spice of life. It adds a dash of the unexpected to an existence often ruled by comfort and predictability. But spur-of-the-moment decision-making can also betray one’s need for forgiveness.
Let me explain:
Last night, I decided to take the wife and tater tots to Crazy Pinz Entertainment Center for an evening of family fun. Crazy Pinz is sort of like Chuck E. Cheese’s in the throes of an adolescent growth spurt, sporting pimples and midriff-bearing blouses. It’s the place where big kids can be little kids again, yet still act like big kids with no big, scary mouse following you around. I have been considering having my youngest son’s birthday party at Crazy Pinz, so I figured it would be a good idea to check it out first. Imagine: Bowling in the dark, nightclub-style! Neon mini-golf on black carpet! Loud music piped in via XM Satellite Radio! DDR and rollercoaster simulators! Skee ball! Pizza, hot and fresh! What joy! What fun!!
And we did have a good time. It was a late night since there were other things we had to do prior to our visit, but the kids were upbeat and not too crabby. Once we got them to turn on the gutter guards, the little ones starting hitting pins and smiling more. Jacked up on pizza and Pepsi, they bowled their way into the wee hours of the morning. When we finally drug the brood out to the minivan and headed home, we were exhausted but duly entertained.
Why go through all that? I mean, as parents, my wife and I strive to create and maintain a somewhat normal existence for the sake of the collective family sanity. Amidst all the after school and extracurricular activities the kids are involved in, the things my wife and I enjoy doing in our (very limited) spare time, and the demands that come from being employed full time and pursuing a secondary education, we really enjoy our occasional moments of peace and quiet.
Last night could have been one of those times.
I could have come home, kicked back on the couch and watched one of the three movies waiting for me in their bright blue Blockbuster envelopes. Or we could have played Uno or any one of the thirty-or-so other board games stacked in the laundry closet. Those things are cheaper (by a long shot), require absolutely no travel, and don’t add (too much) stress where not a dash more is needed.
But then I fall prey to a very faulty line of reasoning:
People only love you when you buy them stuff or spend money on them.
I have worked 2nd shift for almost two years now, and I hate every minute of it. I’ve never worked evenings and the adjustment has been difficult for me and mine. Where I once could be involved in all the various activities, or choose to spend a quiet evening at home, I now have time for neither. What little time I get comes either early in the morning when I get up to scramble the kids out the door and onto the school bus, or on the weekends, where there are always more activities that hours in which to do them. So when I have the disposable income (ha!) and can make the sacrifice to take a few hours off from work, I tend to cram in yet more activities that I think will earn me a bit of “You’re the best dad ever!”
Everyone had a good time, to be sure. But I will remember the evening as a reminder that often less is more. And I will be grateful.