Thursday, September 08, 2011

Free day!

In order to secure some down time for ourselves we've begun what we've dubbed the "Sunbeam Swap." Today was the first day and so far I think it is the most brilliant idea ever thought of, perhaps even in the whole universe. But it wasn't my turn with the kids—it was my turn without the kids—so I would think that, wouldn't I?

Rachel's Sunbeam teacher at church came up with the idea, which is, that if we took turns watching the Sunbeams then we'd get free afternoons while the littler ones are napping. Brilliant, right? Today was Tracy's turn. She picked Rachel up from school (her son goes to Rachel's preschool, too) and so I didn't see Rachel from 9:00 in the morning until 3:45 in the afternoon.

I played with Miriam, scrubbed some pots I'd been neglecting, did yoga, and when Miriam went down for a nap I took a nap, too! The house was quiet—there was no fighting, no screaming, no crying. I spent most of the day just soaking up the silence and relishing the decreased number of hissy fits I had to deal with.

Of course, I have no idea how things went down at Tracy's house (but I'll find out next week when it's my turn to have all the kids).

Karen asked me if I was just enjoying myself and I said that I was.

"Isn't it nice to just have one around?" she asked.

"It is so nice. In fact, I don't know why I ever thought one child was difficult." Upon further reflection I had to add, "One child was difficult. Two is just so much harder that one seems easy now."

When I told this to Andrew he said, "Yeah, but think of who the one was when you thought one was difficult..." Oddly enough my mom said the exact same thing when I told her about this.

It isn't that Rachel is bad. She's not. She's just spunky, passionate, dramatic, energetic, emotional and demanding. And she has been from the minute she was born—she just came that way. Rachel is the center of energy in our home, to say the least, which is weird because Tracy says she loves having Rachel over because she is a "calming influence" on her boys. (Poor Tracy).

Miriam's much more chill—she came that way, too. I love them both, but I love them differently.

My mom and I were talking about this today while we were walking—how parents love their children the same amount but that that love is shown in different ways. We also discussed how children can't see this and so then they pull the "that's not fair" card.

For example, Rachel and I are constantly butting heads. Any punishment I suggest causes her to put a defiant mien on her face telling me that nothing I could do would ever make her remorseful.

Take my toys away? Fine.

Not let me watch TV? Whatever.

Cut my hair? Fabulous.

Wash the bathroom sink? That's my new favourite chore.

Alternatively (usually if she actually cares about the punishment; or if I just happen to have an idea she doesn't like) she will scream and scream and scream and scream (et cetera, et cetera, et cetera; ad infinitum) until I regret ever saying anything at all.

Stand in the corner? That elicits a good half hour of howling.

Go to my room? Even more screaming.

Put away the dishes? Rolling around on the floor, foaming at the mouth, banshee-like screeches.

Answer "no" when she wants me to say "yes?" Heven help me.

With Miriam, on the other hand, all I have to do is look disappointed and she'll usually recoil from whatever taboo she was about to carry out and will instead start sucking her thumb and pulling her ear.

It's not that I enjoy fighting with Rachel or that I don't punish Miriam because I like her more. It's just that I don't have to punish Miriam and Rachel picks fights. Rachel even fights with her toys, remember? I can't have the same relationship—equal in every way—with each of my children because they are different people. 

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