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Challenge Accepted

At the beginning of quarantine, I rose to the occasion as a mother. While I didn't encourage forts, I didn't ban them. I played board games, spent lazy afternoons coloring Stitch and Moana, and even suggested getting out the finger paints one ambitious afternoon. Oh how times have changed. These days, when they complain that they're bored, I stare at them blankly. I'm out of ideas. And any ideas I do have, I don't have the patience to orchestrate. "I don't know, go look in the recycling bin," I tell them. Maybe an empty wine bottle will inspire a mess-free craft.

So when I got a phone call from the director at the Children's Toy Library asking if our family would like to participate in a Covid-safe family game challenge, I was skeptical of my ability to muster up the enthusiasm to organize such an event with the kids. I have been counting down the days until the professionals can take over my weak attempt as teacher and camp councilor. I'm ready to turn the reigns over to those who actually centered their careers on coordinating fun, creative activities for kids. I've been out of my element for months, and I questioned whether I could endure one more project without breaking another cabinet.

My guilt got the better of me though, and I agreed to task the Meyer kids to construct an obstacle course of sorts to showcase on the Toy Library Facebook page. I gave fair warning to the organizer that our entry would not involve any semblance of carpentry, assembly, or creativity. Our contribution would be deemed a success if I got through the exercise without getting a sore throat from yelling. I figured given my recent mind set, it was wise to set low expectations.

I procrastinated on the assignment for awhile, but putting off the inevitable is not my style. So on a recent sunny morning when faced with the hourly complaint of boredom, instead of directing them to the recycling bin, I announced the project. Of course this was met with much excitement - finally, a deviation from being forced to entertain themselves. They flocked to YouTube for inspiration. Ideas circulated, supplies were gathered, blueprints were drawn up, and strategies were implemented. They decided to each design a separate course. Probably because they're sick of playing together and compromising.

Cynthia's theme was variety. She wanted her course to incorporate her scooter, a bike propelled by gravity, and several objects which she planned to jump over. I had set the bar low, but the plan needed work. I grabbed a piece of chalk and suggested adding a hop scotch element which she was pretty jazzed about. And feeling inspired, I repurposed a trash can as a target in which to throw a ball for an added challenge. Being a pretty easy going kid, she went along with my tweaks and only needed one rehearsal before signing off on the final video. One down.

Eleanor was next. Running was the key element for her course which she mapped out along the driveway (which is very long) and around the house. But there was a deal-breaking hiccup. The videographer (me) couldn't keep up with her while maintaining a steady enough hand on the camera. I tried twice, and even handed the camera off to Kaleb who produced an even more nauseating video than mine. We had to reevaluate the plan. Sizing up my limited running ability, Eleanor spied a cluster of trees and devised a route which eliminated the need for me to keep up, yet still incorporated the fundamental component of running in her course.

Next up was Kaleb who had been setting the stage for what he titled a "circuit." A Power-wheels Jeep had been staged on the lawn and various balls were placed strategically for the obligatory sports segments. The circuit would exercise all parts of the body and take the participant on a journey through water and space, in a carefully designed program for the serious contender. The video speaks for itself, but let me just tell you, it took four takes and I damn near sprained my ankle when I missed a step trying to keep up.

At this point, I had little energy or patience remaining. And since Abigail and Paige still hadn't emerged from their room for the day, I decided that three out of five wasn't bad. I pressed send on the videos and hoped my efforts didn't pale in comparison to other families. Already, I noted a really impressive mini golf course posted on the family challenge Facebook page. Props to the parents who engineered that! I did what I could though. And the kids had a blast. It didn't really matter what they did - they were creative in their own way. And took a much-needed break from the recycling bin. That's a wrap for me until school starts.

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