02 September 2014

When Good Ideas Fall Flat... (Kiwiana theme night)

Sometimes you get a great idea, a flash of inspiration, an urge to turn the ordinary into the memorable. Sometimes you drag yourself off the couch and attempt to turn a boring rainy day into something a bit special... and  sometimes in spite of your best efforts it just plain doesn't work.

There was nothing wrong with the idea: you tried, you did your best. (You could have stayed sitting on the couch but you didn't).
The reality is that sometimes, in spite of all our best intentions (and hard work), good ideas fall flat.

This happened to me on Saturday night, when I attempted to rally the troops and have a bit of at-home Kiwiana theme night fun.

Mr G was heading out on Saturday night with some guy friends (a stag do) and me and the kids were staring down the barrel of a rainy Saturday night, at home on our own. I'd grabbed the "Footrot Flats" movie from Fatso, remembering it as a good laugh (and a Kiwi classic), and as I pondered our fate, the cogs in my brain started whirring.
"How easy would it be to do a Kiwiana theme night?!"
"How fun would it be to introduce the kids to Wal Footrot and The Dog?!"
"We could invite friends to join us - that would be even more fun!"
"Kiwiana food is simple - fish n chips, hokey pokey icecream, L&P, pineapple lumps!"

A plan was formed and the call went out on Facebook. Who is dadless like us and wants to join us?
By the end of the afternoon it was clear that everyone was busy with plans (or a dad) for the night, so we were on our own. Oh well. Never mind, right?
We'll just forge ahead and do it anyway.

Before we dashed out into the wet to drop dad off and pick up the fish'n'chips, I set the table, all ready for our kiwiana dinner. The L&P was chillin in the fridge, the icecream was stashed in the freezer and the pineapple lumps were lying in wait on top of the pantry.
We were on our own but we could still have fun.

Problem: Not everybody was as enthusiastic as I was.
The natives were revolting. Protesting their tiredness, they were begging to eat the fish'n'chips in front of the TV (instead of at the thoughtfully-decorated table I'd prepared earlier).
They refused point-blank to dress in our national colour (all Black) or even put on their gumboots or jandals.
Plus there was grumbling about my choice of movie...
"It looks dumb! What is it anyway? A dumb cartoon about a DOG??!"
"It's a kiwi classic!"
"Well it looks LAME!"

The negativity had worn my patience thin, and my own enthusiasm had waned rapidly. (Plus I was on my own so there was no backup; no bad-cop to my good-cop). Finally there was one negative word too many and I snapped. I confess, I shouted a bit...

"You kids are so ungrateful! I'm TRYING to give us a fun night, to make an effort when I could have just done nothing and we could have had another boring old night watching TV, but no I'm trying and what do I get? No appreciation! Nothing but whinging and complaining! Why do I even bother? WHY.DO.I.EVEN.BOTHERRRR?!"

There was a rush to make amends...
"Sorry mum, you've done a great job - hasn't she guys? Mum do you need a hug?" (Dash)
"Mum, I wasn't complaining, I LIKE fish n chips. And the movie looks OK." (Scrag)
"Well I still think the movie looks lame." (Girl-who-remains-nameless whispering under her breath)
"Hey! At least mum is trying! Come on mum, we appreciate it, honest..." (Dash again)

As we sat around the table, slurping our L&P and glumly chewing our fish'n'chips, it was not exactly the happy scene I'd pictured (no-one even wanted to sing the National Anthem in Maori, not even for a pineapple lump). It was a great idea, I had the best of intentions, but it just fell a bit flat.

Sometimes that happens.

Does that mean I won't try doing this again? No.
Does it mean I will give up making an effort to create fun times out of ordinary at-home nights? No way.
Was it a bummer? Yeah.
Does that happen sometimes when you try? Heck yeah.

Sometimes you just have to push through. Sometimes nights that start off lame and grumpy and niggly can end up being awesome despite a rocky start.
After my rev up, the kids did pull their socks up and we snuggled up to watch the movie:
"Footrot Flats - A Dog's Tail Tale".
[PG, 1987, animation based on cartoons by Murray Ball; music by Dave Dobbyn and Herbs]

Truth be told it wasn't as awesome as I remembered it. The kids didn't really get it (they'd never heard of Wal and Cooch and Rangi and Pongo, the Dog, Horse and Jess). There were a few low-grade swear words scattered throughout (which I hadn't remember from all the way back in 80's) and which gave my grumpy female movie critic more ammo...

"Mum, I don't know how you can let us watch a movie with bad words!"
"Mum, this movie is a FAIL."

Sigh. You can't win em all.

Sometimes you try, and it just doesn't come off.
Would it have been better if friends had been able to join us? Almost definitely.
Would the movie probably still have been a fail in some people's eyes? No doubt.

Do I still think a Kiwiana theme night is an awesome idea? Heck yeah. But next time I'd pick a different movie. (The previous week we had a home-made pizza night WITH FRIENDS - no dads - and watched Whale Rider. Now THAT was an awesome night).

Why am I telling you about our failed theme night? Why didn't I just edit out the reality and inspire you with the fun? Because the reality is that sometimes you can try to create something awesome and it just doesn't work. Some theme nights work better than others.
We've had plenty that fell flat. I remember our first two attempts (Spanish and Indian) where we put in loads of effort but both nights ended in tears! There was a Star Wars night that fell apart as well if I remember rightly and more fire-nights than I can count which started off with niggling over wet wood and unhelpful kids stuck on gadgets, but ended with snuggles round a roaring fire, stories and awesomeness.

Sometimes it depends on the kids' frame of mind, energy levels, tiredness, and what's happened during the day/week.
Sometimes you can put in a load of effort and things just fall flat or - worse - blow up.
But that doesn't mean the idea isn't worth trying, or that next time you do it it won't be awesome.

So if your first attempt at a family theme night doesn't turn out as expected, take a leaf from our book - keep trying, do another one, push through... and let the good times roll (eventually).


If you have fond memories of the Footrot Flats movie  (as many of my Instagram followers seem to) you can get it on Fatso.  Use the code "FAMILY 45" on the signup sheet and get a month of free DVDs (a special deal for my readers from my blog partner Fatso.)

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