One of the great things about motherhood is giving in.
I gave into “Long Arm Parenting” when my kids were little. I’d make up games I could perform without leaving the couch. I’d scoot them back and forth in a laundry basket, risking tennis elbow, but it was worth it. We played “Golden Retriever,” tossing my sock into the corner for my kids to fetch. These all worked well until my back turned into their bouncy house. Time for devising new entertainment.
I’m a huge movie head. I’ll watch anything. But my kids rebelled. Dancing penguins were frightening, losing baby Nemo was unspeakable, and musicals were “too loud.”
Then I got inspired. Nature shows! Luckily, we were lame and never cancelled cable. There was an entire nature channel. Snuggling with my little urchins, we started a 90-minute (90-minute!) show about whales.
Whales. Majestic and mysterious. Surely, symbolizing a new era of body positivity, I patted my feminist self on the back. I was already scheming a “whale week” binge-a-thon.
Everything was going swimmingly until the humpback whale popped out his 19-foot, well, you know. No doubt. He was male.
“Why does that whale have a white snake?” my youngest asked.
“It’s his friend,” my oldest answered. “Right, Mommy?”
I stalled, experiencing fantastic dry mouth. “Right. He’s playing with his best friend.”
I dug into the couch cushions for the remote. Whale games weren’t far behind. But everyone knows remote controls are enchanted and disappear during a crisis. Sure enough, the documentary raised its stakes.
“As the female whale approaches,” the narrator stated in a British accent, “the male readies himself for impact.” A lusty female swam across our screen, as the “sea snake”— ready for action— followed nature.
I extended the longest arm in my repertoire and lunged for the manual “off” button.
Suddenly, the hot park, with its screaming, sweaty kids and lack of shade, seemed like a spa day.
Standing, I announced, “Let’s go outside!”
“And hunt for snakes!” my oldest yelled.
Cate Berry is a children’s book author and mother of two based in Austin, TX.