Pat Sajak soothes me these days. Yes, that Pat Sajak, the one with the uplifted face and oh-so-nutty sense of humor. The one who offers to give the Wheel one final spin and bestows vacations to exotic places like the Mexican Riveria.
Wheel of Fortune is on at 6:30 at my house, which is the perfect time to unplug from the day and plug into the tube: homework is done, dinner is over, and the kids (and I) have reached that tiredness tipping point where if I try to crank up the productivity, I’ll just waste time on Facebook and if they try to do anything together, it’ll end in snippiness and tattling.
So instead, we watch Vanna “turn” the letters—and I remember watching with my grandmother, back in the day, when the blonde goddess actually did turn them and not just tap them—and just enjoy. Sipping a beer, I sit between my two kids on our beyond filthy couch in our TV room with the mocha brown walls and relish their copious comments.
Ben can’t believe somebody can actually win $10,000—and then lose it with one stop on bankrupt. “That’s SO much money, Mom!” he worries, “And now it’s gone!”
And Amelia gets fixated on the trips, “Have you ever been to Aruba, Mom? It looks so cool! There are four pools at that hotel!”
Amelia thinks Vanna is so glamorous, and Ben always wishes he could win the car in the bonus round. I don’t have the heart to tell them the IRS will take at least half of their winnings—and I don’t have the patience to explain the IRS to them, anyway—so I let them ooh and aah over what seems like luckiness and luxury personified.
And both of them think I’m brilliant. Even though my crossword puzzle skills end around Tuesdays, still a very simple day on the Monday (easy)-Sunday (impossible) scale, they think I am whiz at the wheel. “Walk the Line by Johnny Cash!” I’ll blurt out, clearly proud I’ve solved before any of the three contestants have. I don’t have the heart to tell them it’s much easier to do at home than on the show.
Ben will put his head on my lap, and Amelia will hold my hand. We might discuss a snippet of school-related matters during the commercials, or we might just diss on the medication ads. (Given the number of arthritis and heart medication adds, the three of us, with our collective age of 56, are clearly not the Wheel target audience.) Amelia might wax on about wanting to go to Aruba—can you believe they have four swimming pools at that hotel?—and Ben will ask me to explain how the Before + After puzzle works again.
There is no drama, no crying, no whining, no, "mom, Mom, MOM!"
Although I'd settle for the entertaining, conflict-free downtime. I’m also being selfish when we park in front of the Wheel. My head doesn’t spin when the wheel spins. When Pat Sajak is in charge, I am not wishing time away. I am not thinking about tomorrow’s workout or deadline. I am not fretting about all the friends I’ve lost touch with and owe cards and calls. I am not remembering that my sheets haven’t been changed in two weeks. I don’t worry that I my work/life balance has teetered in one direction for too long, and that my kids will suffer the consequences. And I am definitely not concerned that the bonding time with my kids that I most look forward to involves Vanna and Pat.
I am simply there, modeling unbelievable intelligence for my children, and getting kisses on the cheek for it. And, as they say, I ___ O U L ___ ___O T T R ___ D___ I T ___ O R T H___ ___O R L D.
What bonding things do you do with your kids that aren't exactly conventional?