August 17, 2007

Homemade High School Musical

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"Hey, Matteo! Want to climb the walls?" my son Henry asked one day as his friend arrived for a playdate.

His mother looked a bit stricken. I pretended as if I'd never in my life seen Henry scaling our door moldings — and ignored the dirty little handprints left over from his last wall-climbing adventure, not more than ten minutes ago.

We were right smack in the middle of a seasonal disorder called the "rainy weather meltdown." You might have experienced some of the symptoms before -- Confusion. Irritability. A strong desire to pack your bags and run.

After suffering through several years of this affliction, I've discovered that the best treatment is to create a major distraction — for us, a redux of our small dim basement playroom. I've found that a devising new playroom "theme" helps to lure them down there ... I mean, encourage the kids to play there.

This time, the theme for the room's transformation was easy to choose because Julia and Henry's obsession with the movie High School Musical has them constantly putting on plays and singing with their friends.

"We're going to create a real stage for your performances!" I announced one rainy evening when the meltdown had escalated from climbing to bouncing off walls. Then I dragged a futon mattress out of the attic and down two flights of stairs.

Clearly this was not a big-budget renovation, but Julia and Henry immediately became excited at the sight of their frazzled mother muscling a mattress down the stairs. Next we hung a string high across one end of the basement and used curtain rod clips and some old bed sheets to make a dramatic red curtain.

And voilà! We had a new stage that would help us get through the last few weeks of rain — and will certainly be popular with the release of High School Musical 2. Then I'll put my feet up and watch them sing and dance all over again.

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