I like to think I do okay at this parenting thing, at least when just faced with my two kids. But I recently discovered that I clearly have limits. Yesterday the weather was really nice, which brought Sam, myself, and a bunch of other neighborhood kids outdoors. I started off swinging Sam on her back yard jungle gym, and before long Sam’s sometimes friend, the neighbor girl, wandered over and joined her. Fine, I can handle a couple of three year olds. Then the girl’s older brother –named “Duck” or “Drake” or “Gooseman” or something along those lines I can never remember– came over. This is a nice kid: very well behaved, friendly, and mild mannered. So we all four played and talked.
Then I looked up and like three other boys had suddenly shown up and were swarming all over the jungle gym. They were climbing on top of the things and screaming and kicking at each other like little Spartans seeking glory. I kind of edged away from the playground, suddenly uncomfortable with my implied role as guardian of so many children and wondering if “schoolmarm” was one word or two. At this point Mallard or whatever his name was decided in what I gather was a rare moment of assertiveness for him on an attempt at the monkey bars, which ran across the same beam that supported the playset’s four swings. Only he made it about halfway across before the other kids jumped on all the swings and effectively blocked his path forwards and back like obstacles in some video game. Obstacles that laughed and jeered at him. One of these children, I should note, was Sammy.
So Daffy just hung there, apparently too high up to drop and and unable to get past the deadly pendulums on either side of him. He just kind of looked at me, and I just stood there looking back.
“Um,” he said.
“Hi,” I replied, brilliantly.
“I can’t get down.”
I stared at him a bit longer before seeing what he was getting at. “Oh! Oh,” I said. “You, uh, want some help down?”
He looked ahead and then back over his shoulder at the deadly swing chains. “Yes, please.”
I navigated my way through the giggling deathtrap, reached up, grabbed the kid under the arms, and plucked him like an oversize fruit. I then just stood there, holding him at arms length and wondering what to do with him.
“You can set me down over there,” he provided after a moment.
So, yeah, I can handle two kids –two girls— just fine, but I’m not quited ready to be ganged up on just yet. I’ll watch any future impromptu playground gatherings from between the slits of the basement window’s vertical blinds.
So while I can’t speak for any kids stuck dangling from the monkey bars, my two are doing mostly fine. We have some weird kind of allergy or cold going around where we’re all hacking up stuff and sniffling, but it hasn’t arisen beyond annoyance levels. Mandy is being much more interactive, which is both fun and draining. She’s gotten to where she wants more attention, but the only game she really knows how to play is round after round of “Get Down Here and Get in My Face So I Can Smile At You,” which she always wins. Still, we put her down in front of a Baby Einstein DVD, and it held her attention for a good 10 or 15 minutes. Hooray for trade offs!
Sam is also getting better at games, both literal and figurative. She can actually play through a whole game of Candyland if she’s in the mood to pay attention and doesn’t suddenly decide everyone has to swap pieces or gang rush the Liquorice Swamp. But she’s also getting better at various activities and memes that I teach her. And this seems as good a place to admit to the following list of things that I have tought Sam purely for my own amusement:
- To shout “OH NOES!” at the slightest provocation
- That ducks eat bugs, duck food, and other ducks
- The following song, which must be sung in the bathtub at maximum volume: Three deaf mice! Three deaf mice! / They couldn’t hear themselves toot in a bucket! / They couldn’t hear themselves toot in a bucket! / Three deaf mice!
- To sing “Oops, I did it again!” while banging the crap out of her little electric keyboard.
Not really a bad list, all things considered, but she’s young.