Soapbox Sunday: Entertaining Yourself

>> Sunday, October 18, 2009

*Steps on soapbox*

It occurs to me that one reason I'm not a "fun" person is that I have no trouble whatsoever entertaining myself. At any given time, I can happily watch a movie, read a book or a manga, revise existing work, write on one of no less than half a dozen novels, write a short story, play with children, work on jewelry, embroidery or crocheting. I can play a video game (thanks to my husband's tutelage). Or I could blog or read on-line or troll through Wikipedia or sing or, sadly, do some of the many chores and stuff that I have to do. Or work out.

But, when it comes to being a social director, I suck. I've never arranged for the entertainment of others and I've no skill with it when I have. I don't party, I don't know what people like to do in groups and I have no idea how to entertain someone else.

For the past week, my husband and I have been effectively trapped together with the two youngest children as the flu ravaged our good natures and made trips to break up the monotony prohibitively exhausting. I'll be the first to say that makes things challenging in the best of circumstances. Last week, I managed to drag my ravaged body to my husband's brother's wedding to sing and hung out with the baby as Lee and my other two children wandered through the Renaissance Fair. Somehow, that translated in my husband's mind to indulging "me" (???). Since my husband's reaction to illness (he started getting sick on Tuesday) is to sleep 12-18 hours a day, I've been largely on my own watching the two kids. Fortunately, my kids are pretty easy to take care of, but, since I was also trying to take advantage of my down time to finish the revision of my novel, it was somewhat challenging. And, it can be exhausting, when you're already quite ill, to be the de facto one to get up with the kids and make them breakfast and lunch and dinner and entertain them and make sure they stay out of trouble and play with them and, and, and...

At the end of the week, I was finally feeling better, had actually finished my revision, had an exciting new idea in mind for writing and was told by my husband (who is also recovering) this was "my" weekend. Yay, I might think, I can leave the kids to the hubby and dive into my writing. Except, apparently, "my" weekend means I need to get up with the kids and can only wake my husband once I've figured out what "we" can do for entertainment. Then, if we get back from "our" entertainment and I want to write, he gets to go back to sleep from boredom. We, in fact, haven't had a conversation this weekend where he hasn't reminded me how bored he was (that's aside from the fact I bought him two expensive video games at his request last week, owns several times his weight in legos and has reminded me, repeatedly, that he hasn't seen a movie he's desperate to see because I don't care enough to see it to try to find a babysitter and he doesn't want to see it by himself.)

If there's one thing I hate, it's looking forward to going back to work.

*Steps off soapbox*

Note, in all fairness, I managed to write nearly 7000 words on my new novel this weekend mostly because I work well under adverse conditions, but it's really leavened my enjoyment.


  • Jeff King

    I did not write a word in my novel... just could never get around to it.
    I also hate going back to work, it drains me of life.

    I decided to write when I have motivation, I suck at it if I push or work at it. But if I write when I feel like it the story is compelling and good to read otherwise it is horrible and only fit for the trash bin...

  • Stephanie B

    I'm like that if I'm not inspired myself, but I'm currently hot, following a new character.

  • The Mother

    The care and feeding of husbands, while not an exact science, certainly has a few well-established principles.

    One--no wife is allowed to be sick alone. Husband will immediately find a way to be sicker.

    Two--even if wife is on deathbed, she has to do chores. Someone has to feed everyone and buy toilet paper.

    Three--husbands who are sick regress to childhood. Somewhere around three or four years of age. That stage where, yes, they must be constantly entertained.

    Four--(applies only to Jewish households) No matter how much medical education hubby has, he is absolutely convinced that Chicken Soup fixes everything. Sick wife will either be standing over a stove with a pullet or phoning her mother-in-law begging; extra points if she chooses option B.

    Oh, you have my sympathy. But even I cannot rewrite the laws of physics.

  • flit


  • Boris Legradic

    Good to hear you are all feeling better - though you should show your husband this post (if he hasn't seen it already), so he can do better in the future!

    @Mother: Not being a husband (albeit a proto- or potential husband) I cannot directly refute your assertion, but having been a very long-term boyfriend I still feel I must protest. When my girlfriend was sick, I usually tried to do everything I could for her - until she begged me to please leave her alone ;) But I have to admit that I did offer to cook chicken soup for her, which she did not appreciate very much though, since she was a vegetarian...

  • Stephanie B

    The Mother, I actually was thinking of the sickness as a mitigating factor. It's the wanting me to entertain him so he isn't bored that irks me (and, since my teenage daughter does that to me, too, I'm not sure it's a gender specific trait). Lee has horrible allergies and asthma, so the flu hit him right in the lungs. Another of those consistent problems we have is he came from a family of people who bitched when they hurt while I'm from the suffering in silence crowd. If I ain't bitching, he assumes, hey, I'm done. Still, the entertainment pressure got to me.

    I will admit, though, that for two husbands, they felt justified in shutting down when ill and I never have felt I had that luxury. Two husbands, however, seems insufficient for me to determine a trend, though, since my father was the stoic, work-through-anything type and my mother was the moan-in-bed-while-people-wait-on-you type.

    Boris, good for you standing up for all mankind. I try, but don't always succeed, to not ascribe characteristics of one person to all of a subgroup, but I've been guilty of doing so before. That wasn't my intention here.

  • Shakespeare

    I think it isn't just men who are like this--but in my experience, those who grew up being babied continue to wish to be so. My daughter's learning the hard way that it won't work with me. She and I are both in week 2 of something viral, but congestion isn't going to keep her from going to school just so she can dance around in ballet clothing all day. If she develops a fever, now, that's something else.

    If I get sick, I do all I can not to pass it around. My hubby's escaped many ugly things this way, and he doesn't realize that I do it for my sake as well as his, for I don't need to be catering to some other whiny sick person while I'm also under the weather.

    Sorry you had to put up with the great sleeper, but he likely recovered more quickly because of that. My son does it--the whole sleeping all day thing--and he usually gets over stuff in half the time it takes my daughter to do the same thing.

    Are you well yet?

  • Stephanie B

    I am well, now, except for some allergies, and the sleeping thing works for both my husband and Alex. He arguably had the flu more severely (hard to be objective, though his coughing was definitely nastier to listen to), but he got over it in half the time.

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