Saturday, July 11, 2009

Good, Old-Fashioned Fun

Living in Utah, you can't escape the pioneers. They were hard-working, industrious, righteous people who raised a dozen kids apiece while dragging their worldly belongings across the country in a handcart. Their specter is always hanging over modern families like mine, mocking us (solemnly, of course) when my kids refuse to, say, help unload the groceries from the minivan. You can almost hear them saying, shaking their heads in ethereal disgust, We crossed the Rocky Mountains on foot for THEM?

So I feel this burden to live up to our pioneer heritage. Well, not MY pioneer heritage, of course - my ancestors were pilgrims and immigrants from various European countries. But even with that stock, I've got the Puritans, and I'm guessing they would be as disgusted as the pioneers by my children's lousy work ethic and reliance on modern conveniences.

Today I assuaged my guilt by taking part in the ultimate pioneer tradition, weeding. Weeds are timeless, they are eternal, they are from the Devil himself, so you know the pioneers would want them stamped out with vigor. Ryan and I could have pulled the weeds ourselves, but we didn't want to deprive our children of the growing experience. There's not an LDS church leader in existence that doesn't have a story about how working in the yard made him into the man he is today. On the off chance that our kids can overcome their parentage and actually make something of themselves, this will be an important moment in their development. Resume-building, if you will.

There was surprisingly little complaining when I announced that it was Family Weeding Time. The boys trooped out there, put on some gardening gloves, and got to work. Well, got to work at their own pace. The sun, which had been lurking behind clouds until the very second we herded the boys outside, was beating down on us with intensity. Ryan and I have done this kind of job before, so we knew that the faster we got it done, the sooner we could get inside and cool off. Brad and Noah have devised a better theory, and it has two parts: 1)The slower they work, the more weeds will be pulled by other people, and 2)Invite friends to help. Sneaky as they may be, they're on to something with step 2. Brad had a friend over when we started weeding, and that kid pulled more weeds than all of the kids combined! Plus, and this is huge, he never once complained, ever. Wow! I didn't know kids like that existed! I'm sure it's because he wasn't at his house, being forced to do this by his mom, but still. He's going to make his ancestors proud.

If you're a long time reader of this blog, you'll know that in April of 2007, we made another attempt at kicking it old school, when we gave up our potentially-but-as-yet-not-dangerous trampoline in favor of a classic wooden swingset. (You can read the original long-winded post here.) What could be safer than a wooden swingset, crafted (from a kit) by their parents loving hands? That is what the pioneers would have made for their kids, if their kids had any free time after baling the hay and milking the cows and fishing in the crick.

Within the first 24 hours, we had one bloody nose, one breath-knocked-out, and one trip to Instacare to get his head stapled. Last year, one of the monkey bars broke while Noah was on it, a nail scraping his arm on the way down. We not-so-affectionately refer to the swingset as the death-trap, although the major injury was done to our wallet, since we paid $750 for this thing that has done nothing but fall apart. I've mentioned my theory on Pain Units; there may not ever be anything in our life that causes more ongoing Pain than this swingset.

The area we were weeding was around the woefully unused swingset. When we went out there today, this is what we found:

Is it really so hard to have good, old-fashioned fun? Shouldn't a $750 swingset, admittedly on the low-end price-wise, last at least three whole summers? This is how I know I'm not a pioneer, because a pioneer wouldn't complain about this. They'd probably pray for the crooks at Adventure Playsets and anyone who bought their products at Toys R Us. They wouldn't still be holding a grudge after 27 months of crappy-swingset ownership. What they WOULD have done, I'm convinced, is torch the thing. Now THAT'S some good, old-fashioned fun!


rachel said...

We will bring the marshmallows, graham crackers, and chocolate :).

Suzette said...

We have the fire pit, Dave has a chainsaw. Bring it on!!