“I’m the fun extractor, twisted fun extractor hey hey hey
You’re the two year old, my cheeky two year old hey hey hey”
Hi there, my name is mummy and I can, pretty much, take all the fun out of every situation. I have therefore decided that, henceforth, I shall be referred to as ‘The Fun Extractor’ and Prodigy’s Firestarter will play whenever that crucial moment of extracting fun arrives.
I’m actually starting to feel a little excited about this career change now. It’s suddenly become a lot cooler than I initially envisaged. I mean, who needs actual fun when you’ve got Firestarter as your theme tune, right?
Don’t get me wrong, I can be fun, I can absolutely play with the best of them. My Brio tracks are feats of engineering, my Thomas pushing is second to none and am I not, after all, the inventor of such wondrous games including; tree tunnel, bed tunnel, chair tunnel and, this is possibly my favourite; tunnel tunnel. I’m also very much a dab hand at acorn throwing, stick wielding and snail shell collecting, so I know I can be a bit of a hit with the young folk. I play, I read, I create excellent voices, I sing, although am regularly told “No”, I dance and jump and spin and roll and boy have I developed a talent for kicking a ball these days. I genuinely like to think I’m a merry old soul but, I also know that I’m mama.
Ahh, yes mama, that person who keeps things tick tocking along. The one who will always have an eye on the clock and an eye on the child and ends all enjoyment.
I hear myself sometimes when we’re out and about; “Slow down!” “Speed up!” “Stop!” “Don’t throw acorns at Pepper!” and “Please let’s not play with barbed wire“. The constant cajoling and negotiating, the pleas and bargains until we, finally, manage to return home feeling slightly frazzled (me) none the wiser (me and Sam) and chewing a tennis ball (Pepper).
I also hear myself indoors; “Don’t throw the conker at Pepper”, “Let’s put the tractor down now so we can change your nappy” and “Can we keep the sticks outside please?” And am, again, left feeling bossy, no fun and, quite frankly, a little bit drained, wondering if there’s a chapter in some magical toddler manual, I’ve missed, about how to leave, even just the tiniest speck of, joy in a situation.
Now I love fun and I love a spot of spontaneity. I’m a naturally mischievous being and like to make merry. The time I spend with my child gives me such joy but, lest we not forget, I’m also my son’s primary carer and run our home. I am therefore always anticipating, forward planning and pre-empting, whether it be the next meal, the next danger zone, the next play date, our grocery delivery, getting to the post office before it closes or taking, yet another, load of washing out of the machine. On some days it’s simply that I’m human; I’m tired, I got out of bed on the wrong side and am in need of a coffee and a little sit. And so the fun ends, yet again, on my watch, whilst I, try to, recharge the parental batteries, before the jocularity can recommence.
Motherhood has taught me a great many things, least of all that I can run. Those times when Sam is off ahead, my mama eyes are alert and I spy a road, a lake, a ‘don’t walk on the grass’ sign or a blessing of stampeding unicorns, when the fun extractor triple whammy combo of “Wait!” “Freeze!” “Stop!” simply hasn’t worked and I’m required to make that frenzied, parental dash to catch up with my small, yet surprisingly speedy, charge. Well, I guarantee I’d never miss a bus these days, unless of course my toddler was going in the wrong direction; I have discovered that, as well as being too fast, toddlers are also too slow. And their speed is never in synch with your plans.
And oh yes, of course I admonish myself for being a kill joy. Naturally there’s a spot of mum guilt going on for constantly feeling like the one who spoils all the fun. I regularly question whether it really matters if things don’t run to time and we spend an extra 30 minutes playing. What harm can it do to be make the whoopee mummy and throw all caution to the wind? And then we get home and I’m faced with a hungry, tired child shouting “EAT! EAT! EAT!” at me as he climbs in to his high chair, sobbing because it’s dinner time and dinner is late, of course, I then feel guilty about that.
So what’s the answer?
In all honesty, I’m not sure there is one! I am, however, pretty sure that I’ll probably go on being the Fun Extractor for a good few years yet, but, that the subjects will change and it’ll be curfews and cars, homework and girls and all sorts of incredibly in to the future scary things. Eeeeks! I also know that I’ve a hell of a lot of love to give and it’s because of this love that I, sometimes, have to become the Fun Extractor; Sam needs to be safe, plus I want him to understand our family’s boundaries and values.
Laughter is incredibly important in our house and if we can always retain the ability to chuckle through the tough times whilst crawling through a tunnel made of sheets, before mummy says “Time’s up” of course, then I figure we’ll all probably be just fine and manage to have a bit of fun along the way too!
Meanwhile, I shall continue humming my theme tune, living securely in the knowledge that whilst I might be extracting all fun out of all situations, at least I’m pretty cool in doing so! I might even get me a glow stick…