We’re late to the “American Ninja Warrior” party, but we’ve arrived.
My kids have a natural connection to the climbing, energetic, persistent individuals featured on this show. Could Hadley and Oliver explain it, I’m sure they would reflect upon the positive qualities they’re seeing and announce they, too, will try their hardest in life, set goals and work tirelessly to see them through.
I mean, maybe. Sure. In the meantime, of course, we get this: “I’m a ninja, too!”
Like my wily children, I also deeply relate to the women and men working their way through increasingly mind-boggling obstacles on a time crunch. Just in writing this column before dawn, I had to navigate some intense hurdles: a loudly-creaking staircase; a living room full of musical trucks that could take off at the slightest nudge; a loud and burbling coffee maker. (I debated on the coffee maker, but let’s be honest: there would be zero words flowing now if I didn’t take that gamble.)
My kids are light sleepers, see. And the culmination of all desires is in making sure Spencer and I never, ever go downstairs without them. “Downstairs” is the center of activity, the hub of home: where their games, tablets and favorite TV shows all live, and there are snacks and flowing chocolate milk for the taking.
At four, Oliver is getting closer to being able to spend short bursts of time independently — though not at midnight. I recently caught him after he slipped downstairs. Ollie sat on the couch and called out for me, annoyed that he couldn’t turn on the TV. Pulled from a dead sleep, I shuffled to his room . . . and found his empty bed. I anxiously followed the sound of his voice until I spotted his little face in the dark.
Parenthood. Not for the faint of heart.
My kids are both in the “don’t leave the room without me” phase, so I’ve had to learn to either include them in activities that prove frustrating for all of us . . . or simply slip from the room, ninja-like, while they’re distracted by “The Secret Life of Pets.” The latter is my preference, but I do try to include Ollie and Hadley in household chores and other projects if I can. Slow progress on the laundry, say, is still progress — and I want them to get used to contributing.
For other projects, though? Like needing to make an important phone call? The kids have radar for important phone calls, friends. How do people work from home and take client calls with toddlers around? I’ve tried bribing and distracting them. I’ve made promises of ice cream and trips to the playground in exchange for sweet, sweet silence.
The moment they sense my attention needs to be elsewhere, they pounce. And attack. I can pretty much bet that any call will need to be abruptly ended by someone taking a foot to the face or a wayward ball threatening my husband’s prized stained-glass lamp. There is wailing. Crying. And the kids don’t react well, either. (Kidding!)
So when I think they’re not paying attention, I always slip onto the deck. I’m close enough to see and know they’re not getting into trouble, but I can physically hold the deck door closed, if necessary.
That’s where I’m at in life, if you’re wondering.
These are all the things that will make us laugh someday, I know. They make me laugh a little now. Though I’m not particularly agile and definitely not in great shape, I have learned how to navigate my house by making the least amount of noise possible — so maybe I can add “aspiring ninja” to my portfolio.
It’s not dangling from the edge of the Nail Clipper (seriously, how do they do that?!), but I’ll take the wins where I can get them.