Touch of Spice: Gambling for peace and quiet
September 28, 2007
Craig — Here’s what I know about young children, and, trust me, it’s not a lot.
If you want your child’s undivided attention, tell them you need a few minutes alone. Better yet, mention that you’re going to the restroom. If you do manage to beat your children into the bathroom, you know they were just a breadth behind you because you can see their fingers wiggling under the door.
I can sit at the kitchen table, ask how school was and get a chorus of grunts, comments like “I don’t remember” and a discernable effort to change the topic.
If I ask that while in the bathroom, I get a jumble of words in a race for my ear like it’s they only chance they’ve got to be heard.
The bathroom is where I really learn about my children, because it makes them feel like they broke into my aloneness and have a spotlight that is fleeting.
Of course, my children are 6 and 7 years old. And they’re girls. Women naturally see a bathroom as a sacred space in which to share confidences and establish solidarity.
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On the other hand, if you are really looking for peace and quiet, host a slumber party.
I know, I know, but trust me here. This is nearly foolproof.
Last weekend, my girls each invited their very best friend in the whole world to spend the night. I won’t lie, the idea scared me to death. This was our first true sleepover with anyone other than cousin Isiac. That’s different because Isiac knows that I have full authority to hang him by his toes if he’s anything but angelic. As long as he knows I have that power, it doesn’t matter that he doesn’t know that I wouldn’t use it. The threat is always there.
Actually, it’s not, he’s one of those truly good kids that doesn’t need threats to behave.
Anyway, I don’t have any implied power over other people’s kids. Hell, I don’t have that implied power over my children, so this was bound to get interesting.
By 4 p.m., our house had grown from two children to four, and I’ve never had so much quiet time. Two headed outside and two headed for the princess dresses. I fielded the occassional request for food or drink, but other than that, I might as well have been alone.
Well, I don’t make THAT kind of mess alone, but still. It was like I’d entered the twilight zone.
Food, I know, was the make or break factor. I opted for traditional pleasers: pizza and pancakes. Seven-year-old Katie’s friend, Andy, complimented my cooking skills.
I can see why Katie loves her.
I didn’t mention that the pizza was delivery and the pancakes were instant.
Anyway, my concerns about food were groundless – I couldn’t force these girls to eat any more than I could convince them to sleep. They were enamored with being together, but eating and sleeping only interrupted play time.
So, aside from washing a few extra dishes and sneaking to the bedroom door to hiss “go to sleep,” my presence was largely unnecessary.
It was a beautiful thing.
Of course, I know I can’t count on that all the time. I think it’s critical that you get the balance right when considering adding more children to the mix. You have to factor in personalities when considering whether the best mixture is an even or odd number. It’s actually a pretty complicated formula that requires trial and error to perfect. Of course, there’s always the chance that hormones will jump into the mix and completely throw your calculations off.
You have the chance to create quiet time for your self or put yourself into a referee’s uniform. It’s kind of a crap shoot.
For those considering hosting a slumber party, whether I could consider you canny or insane, you’d better be the gambling type. The risk is high, but so is the reward.
How far are you willing to go?