Wednesday, November 30, 2016

On having family fun that's actually fun for everyone

What do you get when you have a 13-month-old whose idea of fun is throwing stuff off his high chair, a 13-year-old whose idea of fun is visiting fire stations, and an 11-year-old whose idea of fun is shopping for overpriced tween clothes? Some weekend fun challenges, that's for sure.

Our family has long been into the conquer-and-divide variety of leisure time. BB (Before Ben), Dave and Max would usually head out to explore a fire station on weekends, Max's idea of a good time. I'd drop Sabrina off for a friend hangout, run errands with her or do an activity. On occasion, we'd all hit a museum, the zoo a paint-your-own-pottery place, attend an event or do a random road trip to explore a new place.

And then: Ben! We still do a bit of all that but this past year, we've been hanging at home a lot, and I'm trying to get us out more. Some of my most vivid childhood memories involve activities I did with my parents—puppet shows at the mall, The Nutcracker at Lincoln Center, dancing with Native Americans at a pow wow.

We discovered a place that worked for all the kids this weekend, when we celebrated my birthday by heading to one of those kiddie playzones. Because: I know how to party! As it turned out, Max was the happiest of all to be there.

He hung out in the play diner, and requested mac 'n cheese from one of the kids pretending to cook. "Sorry, we only have burgers," the boy told him, and Max said "I'll come back!"

He zoomed a shopping cart around the supermarket, then rang up a purchase of OJ. (Bonus OT points for using the cash register!)

Another win: The movie theater, where Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs was playing. 
Meanwhile, Sabrina had fun frolicking with the baby. I loved watching the two of them together—Ben has a special squeal just for her—even as I wondered how many billions of germs were on the playthings.  He's not yet walking, and she lead him around by the hand and showed him stuff.

A bit later, we discovered a room where you could shoot soft balls at each other, and Max and Sabrina got out their sibling aggression. It is uncanny how good Max's aim can be when it comes to torturing his sister. Years ago, even with some challenged fine-motor skills, he had a knack for whacking Sabrina's pacifier right out of her mouth. It was delightful.

As much as I'd like for all of us to be together, enjoying activities, it's not the easiest reality. As is often the case with raising kids, we're figuring things out as we go along— and hopefully creating some lasting memories for them.


  1. HA! We are literally going to exactly this place (not one like it; this particular place) after my doctor's appointment this morning!

  2. This is so fun! I need to find a place like this in my area!


  3. I can totally relate to this...we have a 12-year-old, just turned 9-year-old with mild autism, and an almost 3-year-old. Weekend excursions are tough! But when you do find that "sweet spot," it's golden. Good luck finding more like that!


Thanks for sharing!

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