When Clara and Ivy are playing unless bodily harm seems imminent we leave them alone to figure out their own differences. For the most part they manage to play together, work together and resolve their troubles without help. There are of course times when one or the other comes to us in tears and we have to step in and moderate. Since we’ve been having trouble with hitting and pushing lately the moderating has been happening quite a bit more frequently.
This afternoon I heard the start of their spat at the sandbox from in the house while I was putting Jane down for a nap. As I bent over to lay Jane in her crib it escalated into screaming, shrieking and crying and Clara flew into the house yelling like she’d been mortally wounded. Since Clara often screams like she’s been mortally wounded but has never actually been in that condition I wasn’t too worried. But, wounded or not, the screaming had woken Jane up and my attention was needed downstairs. Now, I suspect that spat occurred not over a yellow plastic shovel like they claim but purely because their little sister was almost asleep. It’s like some sort of eerie siren song. When I’m putting Jane to sleep as soon as I stand to lay her down in the crib everyone runs to me with their issues. LOUD issues. Dogs bark, the cat pukes, the phone rings with advice on how I should vote in the upcoming election, John has questions and children who have been playing quietly for hours start beating on each other and run to me crying.
It’s possible that the frantic, one armed, gesticulating to get out while silently yelling “Go away!” that they receive isn’t the friendliest reception, but seriously, can’t anyone see that “I’M TRYING TO PUT THE BABY TO SLEEP?!”
Ahem, anyways….where was I? Oh yes…
Clara comes into the house screaming.
Jane wakes up.
Ivy follows Clara into the house yelling.
I go downstairs and tell the girls to stay put.
I head back upstairs get the baby to sleep.
Finally I go back downstairs to ask what happened.
There they are still sitting in their chairs at the table where I told them to stay happily playing together. I have to interrupt the new game to ask what all the fighting was about and with frightening nonchalance I hear:
Clara: “I hit Ivy two times and then she pushed me out of the sandbox.”
Ivy: “Clara hit me, I told her to go away and she didn’t leave fast enough so I pushed her out of the sandbox.”
I had just started to make obligatorily parental noises about behavior, and ways to solve arguments when they asked if they could go back outside and keep playing yet. I looked at my two happy girls, who were barely paying attention to me because they were still trying to secretly play with each other, agreed and they disappeared all giggles out the door.
Which left me standing in the kitchen with a spinning head.
Did what I think happened just happen?
Was this all just because Jane was going to fall asleep and cosmic forces conspired against their happy play forcing them into a noisy fight?
Is there any way of impressing on your children that they should stop beating on each other when after four minutes neither of them care any longer?
Or is it yet another example that I should learn from of the way kids live in the moment and can let bygones be bygones at the drop of a hat.
I thought about it, decided that parenting philosophy, cosmic forces and moral issues were all beyond me this afternoon, grabbed a Diet Coke and sat down in my quite house to enjoy it while it lasted.