The Wild Rumpus

The family. We were a strange little band of characters trudging through life sharing diseases and toothpaste, coveting one another’s desserts, hiding shampoo, borrowing money, locking each other out of our rooms, inflicting pain and kissing to heal it in the same instant, loving, laughing, defending, and trying to figure out the common thread that bound us all together.

~ Erma Bombeck

Back in the day, when that cruel taskmaster Time doled itself out in the intervals between diaper changes, snack times, stints at the office, and early-evening stroller rides around the neighborhood, when the house was a second-story loft apartment with one air conditioner in the master bedroom window, it was Will Smith as J, dressed in black and gettin’ jiggy with that slimy alien Mikey, that got the rumpus started.

Go ahead. Make your neck work. You know you want to . . .

Felt good, right? Damn straight it did. We’d jump on the bed, a tangled and bouncing mess of diapers and runny noses, a ganglion of giggles and squeals of delight. No pressure to get the moves right. Just wild abandon on a mattress that now, a decade and a mortgage later, sags in the middle.

As the years have passed, adding more and bigger kids to the mix, the rumpuses have moved from the bedroom into other arenas. There have been ball pits, parks with hunter-green plastic slides and cherry-red swings, fast food Playlands, bowling alleys with gutter bumpers and neon lights, glow-in-the-dark, indoor miniature golf courses, back yards cluttered with ruts, walnuts, and barbeque grills, and forest pathways lined with one-hundred-year-old oak trees, the crunch of fallen leaves underfoot. And water puddles, the kind that shimmer in the sun, their calm surfaces broken and sent skyward drop after drop by the intrusion of defrocked feet, leaving shins and calves sporting driblets of dried mud, the happy tears of a well-spent moment.

And movie theaters, for not all rumpuses need be raucous affairs. Not much beats the semiannual sharing of buttered and seasoned popcorn in buckets bigger than your head, sodas served by the gallon, chocolate covered raisins, and sticky red strands of Twizzlers. And then the refills, because that’s what The Wild Things would do, they would live it up while the living is easy.

Because, as Maurice Sendak reminded us a long time ago, and reminds us anew each day we are willing to remember, life is hard and rumpuses are rare and must be embraced with gusto, with hands weary from the toil and hearts weighed down and weakened by the strain of the stuff of life between the rumpuses. All of it is what makes us tick, and rumpuses lighten the load, each passing second a stone added to the lighter side of the scale. It’s a delicate balance, and it takes eyes and attitudes attuned to the deeper meaning of it all to keep things even.

So go ahead.  Rediscover the bond.  Unearth the thing that makes your neck work.  Find the time to let your own rumpus start.  Dinner will be warm and waiting . . .

[photo credit]

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20 thoughts on “The Wild Rumpus

    • Ha! You’re a funny guy . . . but before you laugh, after seeing the movie, we stopped by Best Buy to pick up the soundtrack. The guy gave me a blank look. I hoped he was joking, but he wasn’t. Had never read the book, and didn’t know there was a movie. I just shook my head . . .

  1. You are right, so right. Sometimes when we are in rumpus mode, internally I pray for my children. ” Please, please”, I think, “remember more of this and less of that.” Less of those times when my husband and I are preoccupied, busy with life, tuned out, overwhelmed by bills and responsibility and the weight of the care of three young humans.

  2. rumpus. it changes when they get past 18, but we still rumpus… happy, happy memories…

    and thanks for the bombeck quote – i always seem to forget that she was not only funny and earthy, but she was a damn good writer.

  3. I can hardly wait to see the movie-and neither can all four of my kids. Oddly enough, Steve was never read to as a child, so he was not aware that this book existed AT.ALL, which made me want to cry. We will be there, rumpusing, and I will be grateful.

  4. This is a great post. It definitely serves as a great reminder. I feel like I spend great chunks of my day taking mental snapshots of my time with my family so I can forever remember the moments when my children are a particular age, and as I’m doing so, I realize I’m hoping that, in their own way, they’re doing the same thing. I want them to remember we’re not all rules and habits, but rumpuses, too!

    Thanks so much for stopping by my blog today! I’m glad there’s another person out there who enjoys the Skullduggery books. I’m enjoying the audio version so much because it’s a great kick to hear the actor interpret the characters. It leaves me smiling!

  5. We saw the movie over the weekend. I liked it. My husband did not. And it was about half and half with our kids that saw it.

    But whether or not you like the movie…Rumpuses Rule! 🙂

  6. Oh boy did we tear up a mattress, not just allowing but *encouraging* our kids to use it as a poor man’s trampoline.
    Then we got a Tempurpedic one and no more jumping. Cause you can’t. Biggest waste of money of all time.

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