We have a picture book titled Would You Rather… by John Burningham.
I don’t remember where we got this odd, large book, but as my kids have grown older, they still look at it and think about what their answers would be.
“Would you rather . . . Your house was surrounded by water, snow, or jungle”?
It is interesting to hear their answers change as they grow. When they are small, they often refuse to choose any of the options.
“Would you rather be made to eat . . . spider stew, slug dumplings, mashed worms, or drink snail squash”?
When they are old enough to handle the concept of having to choose, even if all the options are unattractive, they start explaining their choice.
“Would it be worse . . . if your dad danced at school or your mom made a fuss in a cafe”?
Don’t get the wrong impression, the choices are not all bad.
“Would you rather help . . . a fairy turn a frog into a prince, gnomes look for treasure, an imp be naughty, a witch make a stew, or Santa Claus deliver presents”?
Sometimes I think I would like to write a version of this book for moms.
“Would you rather play Candyland again or . . . clean the kitchen floor. With a Q-tip.”
Some choices would be therapeutically humorous. Others practical.
“Would you rather read a book with your child and have macaroni and cheese for dinner . . . or put on a video for your child so you can cook and have something you like but your child won’t eat?”
Others, perhaps too real.
“Would you rather hear your kids say they hate you, or find a cigarette in the laundry chute?”
Some things less worrisome but more common.
“Would you rather sleep a little longer . . . or get up and exercise?”
“Would you rather be short and irritable with your family, but have your blog post for next Monday done or go grocery shopping and actually get everything you need for the week’s meals?”
Of course most of the choices aren’t guaranteed.
“Would you rather have your son think you are a lame parent when he is a teenager and still lives with you . . . or after he is on his own?”
And of course they aren’t fair.
“Would you rather give your squeaky wheel child what she wants even though it will disappoint her cooperative sibling or. . . please your cooperative child and disappoint the complainer (who will take it out on the rest of you)?”
If only the choices were as easy as they are in the book. Often I would “rather be chased by . . . a crab” AND “a bull” AND “a lion” AND “by wolves” than tell a certain child “no.” But that’s never the option, and it’s never that simple. Sometimes I say “no” because I think it’s the right thing to do even though it’s hard, but frankly I don’t think I do it the right way most of the time. Just ask my kids.
But when it comes to my family, I would rather try my best and fail, than . . . fail to try my best. Even though that second option would sure be a lot easier and leave room in my life for other dreams.
If you were going to write a “Would you rather . . . ” book for moms, what would you put in it?