Parenting, sneaky and suave

We’re getting smarter at this parenting a mob routine. In the eight months we’ve had four children, we’ve had many nights that felt like the brink of the bowels of hell – with kids whose civility was about to crack from fatigue, teething, adjusting to school and new siblings, potty training – and the insanity that is toddlerhood. Let’s be serious; the civility was long gone, and we were begging for scraps of humanity.

Last Friday night, we came home to adorable kids dancing, reading, telling stories…but we saw the signs: rubbing of eyes, sleepy blinks, the slightest edge of hysteria. So we hatched a devious plan, and fed the monsters noodles (their favorite) and hustled them to bed, just after ordering Chinese.

As predicted, halfway through spaghetti the sleepy chaos started to eke its way out of our kids. We were ready. Whoosh! To bed. Kisses, cuddles, songs. Then the bell rang, and we had a stay home date in front of the fire. I feel like we won the Friday night lottery! Kid time that was fun and quality but ended before discombobulating is my new weekend goal.

Based on total fatigue Friday, we skipped swimming for the first time Saturday morning. It led to one of the most beautiful days I’ve ever experienced. The kids woke up happy. We snuggled and talked, just hanging out by the fire. Tess picked breakfast (cereal – a rarity around here), Remy conducted while she danced, daddy played an air violin, and Lilou jumped all over the room, trying to imitate her sister. Griff was up rocking on all fours, about to crawl. Bliss. The calm lasted until nap time, when it all went to hell in a hand basket. Don’t believe me?

After being tucked in, Remy rocked Tess so hard in the rocking chair, he flipped it. They almost broke a bed jumping in unison. Our morning’s charm recharged me. I waited, watching on the camera, sociology experiment à la Oplinger. Sure enough, eventually they called my name, sobbing. I schoolmarmed them – or drill sargeanted them. Not sure.

“What did I tell you to do?”

“Go to sleep!”

“If you’d listened, would you have a bo-bo right now?”

“No.” (Remy runs to bed and pretends he wasn’t part of this farce.)

“What are you going to do RIGHT NOW?!” (Both kids asleep in 5 minutes, after a glare and a kiss from me.)

The rest of the weekend was very domestic, in a good way: meal planning, playing with the kids, Dave mending by the fire, reading lots of books.

We got the kids a pile of books and dolls for Valetine’s Day, and figured we might as well use it as an excuse to double dip with Black History  month. Tess loved that Griff’s baby has hair like Remy. Remy loved the book about the first female firefighter. I wondered if they’d notice the race theme. No one blinked. “The Family Book”, by Todd Parr, talks about different kinds of families. Tess asked for it, then pointed out we were like the fish family that’s all different colors. Yep. We ask people to talk to their kids about adoption; we talk to our kids about families with one parent, two moms, etc. No suavity or sneakiness needed here – that’s just at nap time. The talking stuff is fairly easy when we practice on them when they’re too young to remember our errors.

So despite naptime insanity, we won the weekend. As Remy conducts from “Make Way for Ducklings” and Lilou steals Griff’s doll to cover it and hers in elaborate kisses, we’re enjoying our quietish Sunday, family style.

This weekend and all week, we’re in Florida! Having Sassy and Poppi as backup is divine. They say all the same stuff we do, and Sassy is Tess’ hero, so she listens. Phew! It’s going to be a beautiful stay.

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