Maybe there is something to the Bottle-Flipping Insanity

The other night my older two boys sat in the hallway cheering and yelling and counting as they seemingly mindlessly twirled plastic bottles into the air. The bottle flip game. Every parents’ nightmare. Every teacher’s nightmare. Every coaches’ nightmare. If you work with kids, you are tortured by this new craze. There’s even an app for it – at least the app doesn’t involve spilled water or loud thunks or occasional property damage.

My constant diatribe fell on deaf ears. “Go pee, brush your teeth and get ready for bed,” I repeated endlessly. All they could focus on was whether they had “stuck it.” How many points the opponent had. Whether that flip counted or not. They were completely enraptured.

However, it didn’t take long for those bottles to be emptied out and thrown into the recycling bin by a slightly irritated parent.

You see, my boys flip the bottles in the living room. They flip them on the sidewalk. They flip them in the car. They used to flip them in the cafeteria at school, but apparently that’s been banned. Smart lunch staff! The game eats under my skin. It’s not just the noise, it’s the waste of resources that kills me. I already have a “thing” about plastic bottles, but to catch my boys cracking one open, pouring out almost 1/3 of the contents, and then leaving water bottles strewn ….everywhere….. It’s more than I can endure!

So in the manner of most things that irritate me about parenting, I try to consider what might be positive about this bottle flipping nonsense.

Persistence – If nothing else, the boys are learning to stick with something and work towards improvement since landing on the cap apparently earns more points than landing on the base. In general, nine out of ten times the bottle lands on its side, so they flip again.

Turn-taking – Social give-and-take is a constant learning need of the boys and although there’s usually a continuous argument throughout a “game” of bottle flipping, the boys are negotiating the rules and turn-taking.

Mathematics – Not only are the boys keeping score, but they are adding and comparing numbers. I’d love them to start calculating percentages, but that might be a bit too much to ask out of my 8 and 10-year-olds.

Self-entertainment – Teaching kids to be self-sufficient and able to entertain themselves is a constant struggle for parents. At least while bottle-flipping, they are not complaining about being bored or trying to spend time on an electronic device. And it is an activity amenable to a variety of environments, just not all the ones (like in the car) that the boys think it’s appropriate for.

Friendship – The beauty of this game is that anyone can do it no matter what the age or skill level. Thus, the boys can practice the skills of making new friends and initiating interactions with others by joining in this mutual activity or asking other kids to play with them.

Science – In essence, they are experimenting
with gravity, learning the differences in motion depending on weight or amount of fluid in the container, and learning about rotation of objects. I’m working to incorporate the lessons of “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle,” though we haven’t gotten too far with that yet. It’s usually me picking up the bottles and tossing them in the recycle can.

In general, I’m trying to be a bit more patient with this fundamentally annoying game. Like all fads, I’m hoping it moves along soon….though it’s upcoming replacements (like the fidget toy) tend to be a bit more costly!

 

 

 

 

Getting ready for summer!

I haven’t quite figured out when to “change out” the boys’ clothes and finally switch seasons. We had a spell of warmth that demanded the window air conditioners….and then we pulled out the blankets!

But as June arrives, there are just so many wonderful things to do. Check out this list by Pittsburgh Mommy Blogger! Of course, my kids’ favorite is anything that involves water, so I’ve decided it’s time to switch my car over to summer! (And according to the Farmer’s Almanac, it’s going to be a Scorcher this summer!)

My advice after 8 years: This is what you need to have in the trunk this summer:

  1. Swim bag for each kid
    1. swimsuit
    2. beach towel
    3. plastic goggles – the cheap ones because they constantly lose them, bite them to pieces, or otherwise mangle some part of them
    4. sunglasses – which go by the same rule as the goggles
    5. a change of clothes.
  2. Mommy’s swim bag (my favorite bag is a tote by LLBean which they don’t seem to carry any more, but it’s held up!)
    1. Sunscreen
    2. Extra towels
    3. Snacks for rumbly bellies
    4. Cash at all times (replace when used up!!) to buy more snacks for rumbly bellies because they don’t really want the healthy ones that you packed.
    5. Bandaids – you know that they will actually never abide by the “no running” rule around a pool!
    6. Tissues – love when the boys surface from below the water with boogers streaming down into their mouths, completely oblivious, and I try to pretend not to notice ….while motioning dramatically in one of those “get-over-here-and-wipe-your-snot!!” fashions.  Must have tissues….though baby wipes or the towel can be used in a pinch!
  3. Insect repellant – the tick season is upon us and Lyme Disease is hitting epidemic proportions in Southwest PA. Here’s some information from a friend of mine who is THE Lyme Disease expert in the whole world….or at least in Pennsylvania! Dr. Andrew Nowalk’s Lyme disease frequently asked questions
  4. Baby wipes – I can’t say enough about the importance of having these in the car at all times! They clean chocolate off the steering wheel (it happens!), sticky fingers, forgotten-mashed-smelly banana pieces, and so much more. In fact, I love baby wipes so much, I wrote a whole post about them almost 2 years ago!
  5. Bottles of water – this is particularly important for boys who are almost always thirsty, especially after running around under the hot summer sun. But they also come in handy cleaning up messes when you’ve decided to let the younger twoNate mud 5-14wp play by themselves on the other side of the soccer field while Super Tall Guy has practice and you, for the first time ever, spend the session talking with another mother. And then the younger boys return covered head to toe, very literally, in mud and you remember why you never stand and talk to another mother!!  It was particularly humorous, though, to hear another parent find the two boys (as I stood rustling in the trunk for the water) saying, “Um….does anyone know who these kids belong to?” in that unmistakably disapproving tone.  Yes – me… the negligent mother who is happy the boys found dirt, yet slightly distracted by finding ways to keep too much mud from settling inside the car! (Side note – a head full of mud-laden ringlets leads to a very long bath punctuated with clear joy that beckons the other boys to see that the water has become “poop.”  An inspiring conversation about this episode on Facebook has me contemplating the name for a new daycare center or boys’ school – “Boogers, Poop and Bugs.”  Has a fine ring to it, doesn’t it?!)
  6. Rounding out the back of my van, it also helps to have an umbrella (because it suddenly storms), fold-up camp chairs (because I get tired of standing for soccer/flag football), miscellaneous balls to toss around, and $20 cash hidden in the car for the spontaneous pull-over to an ice cream stand moment!

Summer is a joy! Savor every hot sizzling moment and pray there’s an ice cream truck in your neighborhood!

Soccer Mom – It had to happen….

It has to happen at some point, especially if one has a boy.  At some point, I have to become a Soccer Mom, if only for a season.  I’m secretly wishing that it’ll catch on with at least one of the boys since I like the sport.

On the other hand, maybe I should wish that they will all have a preference for basketball.  It is at least an indoor sport!  I thought about this last weekend when we arrived at the field in a torrential rain storm and I prayed for game cancellation despite my sons’ enthusiasm.  We had just the day before gone to the soccer store and purchased cleats for both (poor Seth can barely walk in regular shoes) and socks and shin guards and balls.  Noah would have worn the cleats and shin guards to bed if I had let him.  So when the coaches started yelling out “U8 games are cancelled” I was very happy.  The boys, however, decided that the now sprinkling water shower was actually enjoyable and they spent the next 30 minutes sloshing about in a mud puddle….in their new shoes!

So here’s my list of things you need as a Soccer Mom…in very little particular order…and with the caveat that we’ve only had one “game” for each kid and my thoughts are highly likely to change over time.

  1. The perfect water bottle.  The ones that leak all over the neighboring diaper bag while at the bottom of the stroller are not so ideal.  The ones that shrink to one third the original size as a result of dishwasher cleansing even if on the upper rack are also now worth only recycling.  The ones that Micah has chewed on the pop-up value so much that they can’t close anymore are also of little value.  I know….probably should get a Nalgene.
  2. Collapsible captain’s chair.  I have two of them.  They work fine, but they really are a pain to carry on one’s back while pushing a stroller through damp grass to the farthest field EVER!  And who wants to fold them and put them back in their “handy” bags?!?!
  3. A golf umbrella.  Let’s face it – despite years of ridiculing my father for such a HUGE umbrella, last week I looked on other people with envy as they kept “mostly” dry with kids scurrying around under their feet.
  4. A really warm parka.  Again, back to the basketball.  I’m not sure I’m cut out for rainy days, cold days.  I might need inside sports to avoid the damp cold (and I certainly don’t plan to be the one to teach the boys to ski!).
  5. Rubber car mats.  After playing in the rain and the mud, I’m pretty adamant that they remove their shoes as they clamber into the van….before stepping on the seats as they make their way into their carseats (and thank goodness for babywipes when they do get things muddy!).
  6. Extra shoes to have the boys change out of cleats when they finish playing.  I haven’t figured out the logistics of this yet – which is why 3 of them (my nephew also plays at the same time as Micah but on a different teams so they don’t strangle one another or just stand on the field making potty sounds at each other) wore cleats to the movie theater see “Finding Nemo 3D” yesterday afternoon!
  7. Extra food in the car.  Even though the boys get a snack after the game (and I was wondering today what I’ll do when it’s my turn), they still pile into the van and ask “what do you have to eat?”  I must remember that they eat every 2 hours no matter what and are not capable of “calmly” overcoming this strong impulse.
  8. A duffle bag to keep team shirts, socks, shoes, shin guards and balls in whenever a straying item is found throughout the week so that by Saturday morning you can just grab it and go.
  9.  Grandma!  Yes, she is vital for pushing a stroller through long damp grass, carrying folding chairs on the back, taking siblings to the “potty” while the other one plays (or just changing a diaper on the ground), cheering loudly, and generally just helping with everything!
  10. A strong heart to swell with pride at every goal, every good  defensive play, pretty much every move.  It’s amazing how teary-eyed I get while watching the boys.  I don’t know who sports is better for – them or me.

Please help me – what else do I need?  I know I’m forgetting something.