Spinning the Wheel


If you can't figure this out, see below: the answer is embedded!
If you can't figure this out, see below: the answer is embedded!

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!”

You tell me: what's not to love in this picture?
You tell me: what's not to love in this picture?

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? 





26 responses to “Spinning the Wheel

  1. On nights when my husband can’t make it home before my 8 yr old is in bed, we have a “girls night”. I pick up something incredibly easy to prepare for dinner (and usually not the most healthy), then we do what ever she wants: paint our nails, watch TV, snuggle, whatever. 🙂

  2. My kids like a game called “Psycho Mom”. Pretty much I get to hide from them, scare them when they come around a dark corner and chase them around until I dissapear into hiding again. Sometimes we turn off the lights, other times it is impromptu. Sometimes I talk in a robot voice so I am devoid of emotion. It might be traumatizing and could cause some kids nightmares, but honestly the kids love it and beg me to play it. Who knew?!

  3. What a beautifully simple idea! I love it! Thanks. Bonding is usually cuddling in bed, reading stories, but I’m not chillin’. Now I can!

  4. I cherish any moment my 16 year old would choose to hang out on the couch with me after dinner…usually, it would include a Discovery show of some sort. Mythbusters, Man vs Wild, Gold Rush–I don’t care. I’m just so grateful to share a laugh with him!

  5. We are Wheel Watchers, too!! In fact, my kids convinced me to sign up for the Wheel Watchers Club so we can try to win the extra cash. 🙂 Like you, it’s a time for us to all veg out, and for me to impress my kids when I blurt out the answer, or we all yell the (obvious) answer at the TV and the contestant never hears us.
    P.S. I have fond memories of watching Solid Gold with my grandma. 🙂

    1. My kids want me to join the Wheel Watchers club too…maybe I’ll join you there, Carrie–or see you on the Mexican Riveria! 🙂

  6. We all watch Top Gear on BBC America. The combination of the accents plus the grown men acting silly puts my 8-year old over the edge with laughter! Bonus, we, the grown ups, liked it to begin with, so we get to watch something that’s not animated and we all enjoy!

  7. I love this post so much. My little guy asks me to “get comfy on the couch” with him. We snuggle under blankets and watch Jake and the Neverland Pirates. I should be doing a million things. He should be watching something more educational. But it’s how we wind down after preschool and work, and it’s our time. And I love it.

  8. We empty Ruthie’s marbles on the carpet and pick them up one-by-one with our feet and put them in a bowl. One of Ruth’s nicknames is “Monkey Toes”, so she’s good at it, but Will and I can do it too. For some reason they love this. And it’s good for me. It started when I was trying to make my feet stronger after my Morton’s neuroma was diagnosed. So doing it with them keeps me doing it, and it makes all of us laugh at our monkey toes.

  9. Oh I remember watching “Wheel of Fortune” with my parents every night and loved every minute of it! It was always a great challenge to see who could solve the puzzle first. My Mom was so good at it!
    And thanks for the reminder to get off the net and go change my sheets! LOL

  10. We build together. Buy an old house, renovate, sell. They love to be in the garage working on dad’s projects and we all partake in the idea- brainstorming how to turn that old door into a showpiece for someones home. And we group hug alot!

  11. Does anyone have a problem getting rid of the subscribe blue box when they view the page on an iPhone or iPad? It floats in the middle of the text and I have to try and maneuver around it to read…I know it’d go away if I did indeed subscribe, but I’m not going to…suggestions? Thanks!

    1. Sorry about that, Amy…we thought we’d fixed all the subscribe issues. I’ll tell our tech guy stat. Thanks for letting us know.

      1. I just checked on my phone. I’ll let our IT guy know, but if you keep the text all the way over to the left–not ideal, I realize–it stays put. Just fyi.

  12. Ironically my children and I exercise together. I sign us up for a 5k and we go out and walk/run. Some days it’s just a mile. Some days more. But we take the dog and I let them set the pace. We talk. Very low tech. I look forward to it every spring.

  13. My 8 and 6 year old girls and I sometimes snuggle in my bed after dinner and PJs are on. It can be our 15 minutes to relax and talk or to do lots of tickles. Either way works for me!

  14. We play an version of Hide & Seek – and he is 27 years old. When out shopping together, we will get separated in department stores. I is then one of us will send a photo to the other’s phone, “Find Me.”

    A close up of a Samsonite logo will have me rushing to the luggage isle to find him wedged on a shelf behind suitcases. Once I took a phone photo of a small duck toy on the tray of a baby stroller and hid deep behind a row of boxed strollers.

    Come to think of it, most of our bonding and fun is unconventional!

    1. That’s great and definitely a sign of the times. When I was a kid shopping with my mom, when we got separated, she’d rattle her keys. I could hear hers across the stores with their distinct sounds. My tech savvy 10 and 7 year olds are going to love this version of Hide and Seek!

  15. I have 2 teenage boys with my same irreverent sense of humor, and we entertain ourselves by watching videos on YouTube. Our particular favorites are Fail compilations, but we also laugh at just plain weirdness (see Creature Carl for an example). It drives my husband crazy, because he just doesn’t see the humor. I don’t think I’d win any parenting awards here, but I love that I have 2 boys I can laugh with!

  16. I absolutely love this post! My children are not old enough for anything like this but we do occasionally watch Mickey Mouse together (thankfully my daughter cannot understand my husband and my comments on the likability of goofy and Donald). I just love knowing that the end of the day is manageable because with a 2 year old and a one month old the day doesn’t seem to end!

  17. Oh we adore Wheel here too. I have been told many times by my 9 year old son “please don’t say the answer momma. I want to try to guess and you alway get it first. ” the older ones and I often play for chores. First correct guess in a puzzle exempts them from a stated chore. Losers pick up the slack. Mom gets good at puzzles to keep the peace and keep order! When dad is home (he works nights) we play for the chore of cooking dinner the following night. Yup. Mom gets dinner out quite a bit when Dad is the loser! How fun to know we are not the only family that adore the Wheel!

  18. Playing Star Wars angry birds. I’m completely against video games, but on the weekends my two boys and I bond over the iPad! We all take turns and cheer each other on as we work together as a team to beat every level on each planet. We talk about “strategy” for each level and how to use the different birds. My 3 and 5 year olds love it, and so does this 32 year old mom!

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