As I was driving home yesterday with my preschool age kids, the silence couldn’t escape my notice. Maybe not complete silence, Lola had requested I put up the volume on Katy Perry’s most recent musical genius, but other than the bitter sweet sounds of a 4 year old singing ‘…are you ready for, ready for a perfect storm…’ there was decidedly a lack of child created noise. After a long day of working, home schooling, swimming lessons and the daily grind, some peace in the car was nothing short of heaven. I know that sounds confusing, but when I say ‘peace’ what I mean is no fighting, loud playing or name calling (we’re into the hilarity of toilet humour so ‘poo-face’ makes a frequent occurrence).What made this particular event unusual however, was that after swimming there is always a scuffle and a huff over who gets to hold whatever post swimming treat I have brought. These morsels are usually in the form of a packet of crackers, flavoured rice cakes, or chips. By this time of day they have usually eaten their weight in sugar and there are more peaceful things I prefer doing in my evenings than pinning my sugar-high children to their beds and threatening a night without their favourite cuddly toy.
Having two children so close together has been an education in many ways, it’s like having twins, but sometimes harder. Lincoln wants to do everything Lola does, eat everything Lola does and stay awake when Lola does. Those of you who have kids know that the difference between a two and three year old is big, sleep schedules are still in full swing and there are some things that a two year old really shouldn’t be eating yet (refer to earlier comment on sugar mass). Now that they are three and four it is easier, but the fact that Lincoln is fourteen months younger is still something I need to consider.One of the things I am thankful for in their close age gap is that neither of them can remember life without the other one, well obviously in Lincoln’s case, but Lola certainly can’t remember being an only child either. So there have been some life essentials I have tried to put in place from early on; tolerance of each other and their differences (of which there are many), kindness as well as open displays of affection and love, particularly after events like socking your sister in the eye or tripping your brother when he spends most of the day tripping himself anyway, helpfulness – because the sooner they can start cooking me meals and cleaning up the better, and then the obvious gem at hand – sharing.
Mention ‘sharing’ to any mother and she will probably hang her head and weep a silent tear for that which cannot be. It is hard to fully understand the extent to which a young child will not share until you have seen it for yourself. It can be extreme! I won’t go into the logistics of it, kids can be freaky and down right inhumane, but don’t let me put you off*. I must be an open book here and confess that my children are actually rather sweet with each other and are incredibly good at sharing, I think a by-product of being forced into it, but when it comes to food, they behave like half starved children you would think have just escaped a concentration camp. There has been more than one occasion when a fist has been flung in order for another morsel to reach their mouths. It baffles me. This behaviour isn’t limited to things like sweets and cakes either, they are just as willing to squabble over who gets to hold a packet of dry crackers.
This brings me back to the relative silence in the car. For a change, I had brought two packets of crackers, the ingeniousness right? I feel this needs an explanation, not because I’m up for most thoughtful mom of the year, but because I don’t regularly perform this action with regards to bettering my mental state and injecting calm into my frazzled veins. Generally swimming is a late finisher; therefore hunger needs to be kept at a seventy to eighty percent in order for the kids to eat their dinner. More crackers equal less dinner. That, and I mercilessly soldier on with forcing the sharing.
The calm of my drive home highlighted my potential stupidity with forcing something that should come to them one day without all of my incessant ‘life lesson’ planning. But then something else occurred to me; day in and day out we mothers tirelessly try and teach our children to become masters of the universe (maybe without the oversized sword) and then the day comes when their training begins to pay off, and in mastering their universe, they master you. In fact, we’re probably the easiest targets on their list. They begin with us. With almost 9 collective years of training in the art of mum manipulation, my two are getting very good. So good in fact, that it has taken me a while to realise how well they play me. But I’m seeing the golden lining, if they can outsmart me, even for only one car ride at a time, they are well on their way to conquering their universe. In a completely backwards way, I should be pleased with my handiwork. Let the lessons recommence, and let me find the strength to persevere with two sharp whited preschoolers who can both outmanoeuvre and outplay me!
*Kids are also scrumptious little puddings who giggle and give big hugs.