We visited with family and friends on Sunday so that our children could spend some time together. As soon as we got there the kids took off with their cousins for the playroom. I sighed to myself, what are we going to do with ourselves all afternoon while the kids are playing?
Oh! Look! There just happens to be a large flat-screen TV on the wall broadcasting today’s opening day Patriots game. Wait, you also have NFL-RedZone? My, what an awesome coincidence of events we have here. I guess I should just sit down and get comfy.
This socially acceptable play-date allowed six children to entertain themselves and play in relative harmony while six adults watched three hours of generally uninterrupted football.
That right there, folks? That is what I like to call Parenting Genius.
Now ye naysayers who take the stance, “Nice parenting…way to go ignoring your children for three hours on a Sunday…how long is football season?”, let me stress this is not truly the case. When I say generally uninterrupted, that is because six adults well known to each child took turns administering food and drink, collectively running an ongoing head count, kissing boo-boos, changing diapers or assisting with potty time, launching tickle attacks, cheering an impromptu band concert, and arbitrating disagreements as they arose among the small folk.
When you have that kind of a tag-team atmosphere, the process just feels easier tackle (heh, tackle).
The day before, my two kids were at it constantly. No matter what we did to distract, entertain, engage, or deflect the two could not get along. They fought over toys, they fought over food, they fought over places to sit, and they fought over who got what color drinking cup.
I was about to lose my mind. I was ready to sell them to the lowest bidder. I was Googling to see if Massachusetts has an age restriction for that child dumping law that allows you to abandon your children without criminal charges.
Okay, no. Not actually. But I was stressed and drained of all parental will. I was placing my palm upon cool foreheads because clearly they must have been ill to be acting so wretched. Alas, no. There was no explanation for the force of evil that was unleashed upon us. I closed my eyes later that night praying for the next day to be easier.
For the most part it was, but there was one incident during the play-date yesterday where I found my son and daughter engaged in a tug of war over a Buzz Lightyear action figure. I tried a few pointless inquiries over the screaming and crying to find out who had it first, but not having witnessed the start of the fray I was subjected to the usual he said/she said argument.
I reached down and with great effort released Buzz from four little death clamps. I raised the toy high above their heads and calmly stated, “If you cannot take turns and play nicely, neither one of you can have the toy.”
There was a mild protest from the older one (who I suspected was the offender in the first place) before she ran off to find something else to do.
My Sister in Law had been standing nearby and commented on how well I handled the situation; impressed that I hadn’t lost it on them, because frankly it was a difficult fight to break up. It occurred to me that if we were at home alone and I had just arbitrated fight number 78 of the afternoon, I probably would have yelled…a lot.
But having others around, close friends and family to help bear some of the burden of those more difficult moments, it helps. It just feels less overwhelming.
As she and I were discussing this I looked down. My son was still standing there, several minutes after the altercation. He was silent, yet pouting and staring longingly at Buzz still held aloft in my grasp.
I looked over and spied my daughter completely engaged in other activity, and handed him back the toy.
- Because you try and resist that sweet pout.
- Because I’m a sucker.
- Because sometimes when doing this parenting thing you have to go with your gut, and my gut told me he had it first.
- Because the game was back on.
Next Sunday: Everyone at my house for the Jets game. Go Pats!