Muddy Gamer Kids

. July 1, 2014.

Toledo area mom, Rhonda Wilson, is new to Toledo Area Parent, and more than familiar with the precious (and not-so-precious) moments of parenthood. Her personal anecdotes will be featured as Alphabet Soup Mama columns so parents can laugh, cry and nod their heads with her on her journey raising four children.

I won’t lie. My boys have probably spent a good quarter of their lives in front of a screen. C’mon, we’ve all done it – some- times it’s just easier to know where they are and what they’re doing than to fret and worry that they are off somewhere with being maimed a possibility but being mischievous a probability.

Yeah, yeah, yeah, video games don’t make memories, but at least I know where they are. And they’re leaving me alone. And quiet.

Thanks in part to my well-oiled imagination and in part to my offspring’s previous shenanigans, I had a hard time giving in when they asked to explore the neighborhood with friends, sans adult supervision. I envisioned them running into open garages, throwing sticks (or rocks) at each other, dodging cars in the road, throwing sticks (or rocks) at cars in the road…the possibilities of misbehavior were endless and becoming increasingly more violent with every second they were gone. After an entire hour went by with nary a word (or scream), I set out to search for them. And small fires.

I spied their scooters at the dead end of a road. The kids magically appeared at the moment of my arrival, ascending from a small ravine at the base of a large dirt hill by grabbing leafless brambles. All four of the kids had weird looks on their faces, a kind of contortion between exhilaration and dread. My oldest wouldn’t make eye contact, bugging me to no end – whatwere they doing?! My middle one was still shrieking with delight at the amount of smelly, caked mud he had on him. The other kids were hopping on their scooters without being told, probably motivated by my mostly unsmiling, tense face (note – rereading this, I realize I’m a bear. I apologize to all kids everywhere for the lack of humor in parents).

Upon getting home, while hosing the reeking and already crusted mud from a pair of relatively new shoes, I asked the boys if they enjoyed their explorations. “Oh, yeah!” said my oldest, with a hint of hilarity in his excited voice. “It’s a day I’ll remember forever! When we laughed so hard we slid down the hill and when we all almost fell into the mud pit . . .” he trailed off as he walked away, grinning at his own private memories, but I got the point loud and clear. Life is so much better with- out mom hovering. And by better, I mean memorable. Mud and potential disaster shouldn’t keep me from allowing my boys to be boys. I actually kind of loved seeing them crest that hill with all the mud everywhere. The thrown out pair of mud-caked shoes, not so much, but that’s the risk one takes for their kids’ fun memories, right?

Where ADHD, ODD and “@%$#!” are a way of life, being a stay-at-home mom to four kiddos (Juliet, 16, Liam, 11, Connor, 9, Jack, 4) while babysitting and writing for other publications and blog (www.alphabetsoupmama.com), her day-to-day life is a mashup of mishaps, laughs and sometimes tears.