“I want to be in the MIDDLE!!!” Rosie’s shout is indignant.
It’s also pointless.
Three children, Daniel, Poppy and Rosie, are running in circles through my home. Living room, dining room, front hall, living room, dining room … Over and over and over again. It’s been -25C to -30C (-13 to -22F) for a week now, you see. Very cold and windy, which pulls the temperature down a further ten (Celcius) degrees. We’ve barely been outside, for the better part of a week. I have pulled out all my indoor rowdy games, and when I want a cup of tea, I let them run. Run and run.
Today, it’s a mere -15C (5F), and we could be out in that glorious sun and those Christmas-card heaps of fresh, puffy snow. We could, except that Poppy’s baby sister (6 months old) is with us. Baby Sister is sleeping. And Baby Sister? She does not take her napping lightly. Two hours, three hours, are standard. (The dear, sweet, wonderful child.)
But that Olympic-calibre napping does mean we’re stuck inside for the duration. So I let them run. And run and run and run. Around and around.
“I want to be in the MIDDLE!!!” Rosie works on the assumption that if she was ignored the first time, it was merely a matter of volume.
“Rosie, my love?” She pauses and looks up at me. “Rosie, you are in the middle. Look: Daniel is ahead of you, and Poppy is behind you. You are in the middle of Daniel and Poppy.”
“Rosie is not in the middle!” Daniel is clear. “I am in the middle!!” Daniel didn’t care one whit about “in the middle” before. Daniel is much more an “I’m first” kind of guy. But if being in the middle is important, if someone else really wants to be there, well then, middle is better. And he’d better be it!!
“Well, my love, guess what? YOU are in the middle, too! Look! Poppy is ahead of you, and Rosie is behind you. YOU are in the middle of Rosie and Poppy!”
(Because, hello, you’re running in circles. Everyone is in the middle. And at the front. And behind. Because, CIRCLES.)
“NO! I am in the middle!!” Rosie is indignant.
“Yes, you are. And Daniel is in the middle, too.”
Poppy chimes in, delighted. “And I’m in the middle, too! I’m in the middle of you and Daniel!!” The penny has dropped for one of them, at any rate. And she’s happy about it.
Rosie is less impressed.
“NO! I am in the middle!!!”
“Yes, you are. You are in the middle.”
“Not Daniel and Poppy in the middle.”
“Sorry, schnookums. They’re in the middle, too. And that’s okay! They’re in the middle, and You are, too! EVERYONE is in the middle of some other people! EVERYONE’S a winner, kiddo!! Isn’t that good?”
“No. I am in the middle.”
Everyone’s a winner? Pfft. Toddlers are not down with that egalitarian shit.
I have long said that there are marked similarities between toddlers and dogs.
(And thus is it terribly ironic that the woman who can take 5 toddlers pretty much anywhere with no fear of public embarrassment can’t get her damned dog to stop trolling the kitchen counters. I know who to blame for the poor behaviour, of course. And it’s not the dog. On the upside, her recall in the dog park is about 95%!!)
But this? This! Replace “puppy” with “toddler”. Same thing. Exactly. You know it is!
(Thank you, Carol, for the link!)
That title? Is a happy sigh. Not, of course, that I’m on holiday any more. I’ve been back for a couple of weeks.
The reason for that happy sigh is not my current state of employment, but my current state of mind. I am ready to go back to work! Not just ready, enthused. It’s a good feeling.
There’s an ebb and flow to these things:
1. I have some time off. Needs to be at least a week. By the end of that time, I’m recharged and ready for the tots. We are going to have FUN! We are going to LEARN LOTS!! We are going to be KIND and PATIENT and CONSIDERATE! (All of us. Including me!)
2. I work for a while. Weeks go by. The enthusiasm gradually fades as the fatigue steadily rises. I am no longer up to BLOCK CAPITALS OF ENTHUSIASM!!! We are going to … get through our days. We are going to … not squabble or be contentious. We are going to … keep ourselves occupied. We are going to … keep putting one foot in front of the other.
I go from aiming for the positives to simply attempting to avoid the negatives. It’s a short and slippery slope from that state of mind to being overwhelmed by the negatives, battling the irritability, annoyed by this or that behaviour’s intractability. To, if I’m to be completely honest here, to being annoyed by that particular child. Their good points fade behind the glare of their prickly bits.
(Yes, it’s true. A daycare provider can find your child annoying. We don’t tell you the parent that, not if we’re kind, and we do our damndest not to show it to the child, not if we’re professionals, but we feel it! It’s generally a passing thing, as the child passes through a particularly obnoxious phase.)
But! Just about the time I hit that phase — “Oh, my GOD, you’re annoying!!!” — another holiday comes round. I get a break to refresh, to renew.
Thank goodness. For all of us.
Sometimes it’s just a long weekend, which tops up the energy and enthusiasm tanks for a month or so. And sometimes it’s a whole, luscious, lovely week off, as I just had, and then I’m good to go for … well, I’m not quite sure. Two months? Three? Before the slide starts?
Right now, I am filled with enthusiasm. Happy to be back. Fully of ideas, creativity, strategies, hope, willingness, and energy. Wheeee!
Moral of this story: I need a week off every quarter. No, really? Ten days.