Posted by: Kate | December 7, 2009

If Only

The plan was, yesterday, for Jenny and I to pack up our kids and head to Nantucket for the day.  They do something there called the Christmas Stroll, wherein they essentially reopen the island for the weekend… Santa for the kids, carollers, wassail in the shops, historic sites opened for a few days, stores open with ridiculous discounts on last summer’s merchandise, and so on.  Very quaint and New Englandy, I haven’t gone in over a decade but have wanted to for the past several years.  Jenny is one of those moms who manages to get her kids to all of the museums, fairs, and so on, thereby making the rest of us look like uncultured slobs, but for once I had stumbled upon a Quaint New England activity that she hadn’t done yet.

Then I spent Friday night at the elementary school Movie Night, at which I only know there was a movie because the flyers said so.  Anyone who says children are naturally good, sweet, pleasant creatures has never seen/heard a gym full of these beasts hopped up on hot cocoa.  Saturday started off with some Emily-flavored angst, got better when I was able to dump the kids on Willem to go out for a massage and lunch with J., and wrapped up with a holiday party at friend L.’s house… so it was mostly good, but really busy, and I knew there was just no way I could drag my pregnant, fatigued self through the 12+ hours it would take to get to Nantucket and back on Sunday.

Instead, Jenny brought her kids here for several hours.  Which, the bigger point really was just to let the kids play and piece together an adult conversation in between referreeing, so all in all, given the sudden shift from 60 degrees and sunny to several inches of snow and ice, I think we had a better day than we might otherwise have had.

The kids always get along beautifully, mine are 9 and 5, hers 8 and 4, so they just create this big, eight-legged creature of noise and exuberance.  But, like any kids do, they eventually get tired, and tired of each other.  The actual conversations began sounding something like this:

GIRL: [WHISPERS SOMETHING TO OTHER GIRL]
BOY: Hey, she’s telling secrets, but not to me! That’s not fair!
GIRL: Maybe I’ll tell you later.
BOY: But it’s NOT FAIR! Mom…
GIRL: No, wait, I’ll tell you… later…
BOY: No, now! Mom…

Which, good on them for using their words instead of, say, a blunt object, to work out their issues. And I do have a certain respect for the hope-springs-eternal attitude, because to my knowledge, neither Jenny nor I have intervened due to a child’s tattling once, ever, in a decade of parenting, and yet somehow they still think it’s worth trying. But later on, Willem and I were talking about how much cooler it would be if they kids had the higher-level functioning and communication skills to be able to say what they were actually thinking:

GIRL: [SOTTO VOCCE] I’m going to make something up and pretend to tell secrets, just to draw your attention away from my brother and make you focus on ME again.
BOY: I am overtired and overstimulated, and it takes no provocation at all to bring me right to the brink of tantrum!
GIRL: Good. I’ll continue to string you along, because my inherent narcissism causes me to prefer your angst to overall peace.
BOY: But that’s not in my own personal interest! It’s not how I planned for the day to go! I feel thwarted!
GIRL: I am going to continue to ignore your wishes in service of my own impulses, because I’m tired and didn’t eat enough at lunchtime.
BOY: I need an adult to feel at least as miserable as I do, to validate my frustration! Mom…

I dunno, maybe it loses something in the retelling, but the image still amuses me, a day later.

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Responses

  1. I don’t know- it’s making me laugh over here!

  2. OMG, I have a hernia from laughing now! That is beautiful. It looks like lines from a play for parents. 🙂


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