A whole day up at Pineview Dam was the perfect outing for our family when I was a kid. Some of my siblings were content to play on the beach for hours on end, while others of us loved flying over the murky weber water in the boat, and the bravest few (myself included once I got over my fear of sharks – yes, it was a man-made lake, but you just never know) took every opportunity to strap on a ski and brace ourselves against the freezing water to enjoy beating the heck out of our bodies as we sort of skipped along the top of the choppy water. There was something for everyone and all of us loved it. We’d be driving home from such an outing in one of those rare moments of collective and complete contentment when one of my more obtuse siblings would ask "Can we stop at Grandma and Grandpa’s?" My Mom or Dad would sigh and say, "We just spent the whole day at the Lake, we’ve had enough fun."
That is just one of many similar scenarios that played out time and time again. When we were a little older, my brother realized my parents had a firmly held moral conviction of a fun limit. It was an unwritten law that said "After four or more hours of doing something really fun there shall be NO expectations of anything for a 24 hour period. If one does have said expectations, one is an ingrate and a spoiled and ruined child. It is immoral to do nothing but play all day." We all used to laughed at their odd ways and misplaced sense of parental propriety.
Fast forward 20 years or so to last Saturday. My husband, three kids and I are driving home from our small town parade and carnival to put the little one down for a nap and get ready for a BBQ with friends in a few hours. My oldest daughter says, "Can we call Miss Julie and ask her if we can swim at her house?" My response was reflexive and immediate, "Anna, are you kidding me? We have just spent one hour at a parade where you got more candy than you did on Halloween, and then 3 more hours at a carnival where you got more junk and got to go on a bunch of rides and tonight we’re having several friends over for a party – we are Not doing anything else fun today!"
Horror of horrors -- the fun limit! Somewhere between puberty and childbearing this doctrine somehow seeped into my unconscious file of parenting values and I am now perpetuating it. How did this happen? I can’t believe it, but seriously – a parade, carnival and BBQ... enough is enough!