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Ping Pong Parenting

September 29, 2017 - Stacey Sacco
Our family went on vacation this summer and there was a ping pong table in the basement of the house we stayed in. For the most part, it was occupied by children of various ages testing their ability in slamming balls off all four walls rather than the table. But once, my husband and I walked past at just the right time and decided to play a quick game. What resulted was an eerily accurate (and somewhat cheesy) depiction of our lives as parents.

We started at a disadvantage. We were playing with broken equipment. The net was tied crooked and if anyone bumped the table, it would just fall over. There were two paddles that were remotely usable, meaning they still had their handles. They had certainly seen better days. But it was OK- we were on vacation and taking a few minutes to have fun ourselves instead of catering to the kid’s idea of fun.

While we attempted to play all four kids were swarming around. Matthias was reciting all the facts he learned at the Children’s Museum about inertia, the way pistons work, the history of the space program, deep sea exploration and God-knows what else. One can only listen to a litany of facts for so long before eyes start to glaze over. Sometimes eleven year olds don’t notice the glazing over of eyes.

Justus was his usual buzz of energy. Under the table. On the table. Attempting to jump from the couch onto the table. Hitting his head off the table. You name it, he probably did it. Or at least attempted it.

Anelise was performing a physics experiment. She gathered all of the extra balls and threw them across the table attempting to slam into the single ball we were using. She got pretty good at it.

And my little three year old shadow was where she can normally be found- anywhere within an arms length of me. Sometimes I was holding her. Sometimes she was hanging on my arm or leg. Sometimes she was sitting on my feet. Always close enough I had to be careful not to hit her in the nose with the paddle.

In the midst of all of this craziness and noise, you know what these parents were doing? We were laughing. No one was yelling. No one was crying. No one was complaining. It really is possible. And for that moment, we were together and all having fun. We certainly weren’t enjoying a game of ping pong. We were enjoying our family creating some weird activity that somehow made us all laugh. The insanity was OK- because that insanity is one hundred percent US. The best we can do is go along for the ride. We are rarely in control. Things rarely turn out the way we imagine them. But if we can enjoy the moment, we can laugh.


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