A few weeks ago, Robyn’s class had their school play. Robyn was chosen to be one of the narrators (which is a pretty big deal on the kindergarten circuit) and, needless to say, she was very excited. Unfortunately, I was off to Atlanta on a business trip and had to miss it. Cherise went and made sure to get video and pictures. Unfortunately, in juggling all that she had to do, Cherise didn’t realize that we were supposed to get Robyn flowers. And Robyn was disappointed to say the least. Crying. Lots and lots of crying. When I arrived home, Cherise told me the story and confessed that she made a mistake and we tried to think about what to do to make things better. We had the idea of giving her flowers and say we planned to give it to her the whole time, but were waiting until I got home. Basically, we were trying to avoid the years of therapy that would likely have to come out of this event. I could see it now. “Yes, Dr. Phil. I was a narrator and still the only girl who didn’t get flowers! And that’s the reason I dropped out of school and joined a cult…”
So we gave the flowers and that smoothed things over a bit. Well, at least until Iris saw the flowers and looked at Cherise. “You know, Robyn cried about not getting flowers and now she’s getting flowers. But you always say that if we cry about something, we don’t get it. So shouldn’t she NOT get flowers?”
We have a rule in the house that if you cry about something, you guarantee that you won’t get that thing. Usually, it promotes rational discussion around the requests that the girls have for us and, frankly, I think that policy works pretty well. And Iris was right. Even though we made a mistake, we want Robyn to be more understanding and composed in these situations. By crying hysterically, our guilt outweighed our realization that she didn’t behave properly. And we’d have gotten away with too if it weren’t for that meddling kid…
And that’s why I love having two kids. The benefits to one another are obvious and I’ve written about that many times. They play with each other, form lifetime bonds, and learn to (try to) share and co-exist with another person. But while everyone talks about that and it’s all true, no one ever talks about the effect of us and how it makes us better parents.
There’s checks and balances. There’s forcing consistency in rules. There’s twice the learning. Twice the experiences. Doing things with one kid makes you a better parent to the other kid. And you start learning to treat the kids as individuals as opposed to being “the kid”. And then there are those moments that keep you on your toes and that are so classic that you’ll never forget them…
On Mother’s Day morning, we had a whole “breakfast in bed” plus skits planned for Cherise. Iris comes in at 7am and wakes me up.
“Daddy, it’s time to wake up. We have to do our thing that we planned!”
“We have lots of time. Go back to bed.”
“No Daddy, we have to do it right away!”
“Iris, it’s only 7am on Sunday. We don’t have to go to brunch until 10am.”
“But Daddy, we get up at 6:30am every day. It’s not too early!”
Worn down, I finally say “fine”. I get out of bed and look back at Cherise, eyes closed but smile on her face from listening to the entire conversation and Iris’ skilled negotiation. Lying quietly next to her is Robyn, who apparently snuck into the room during the night and was seemingly asleep, snuggled into her mother’s arm.
“Robyn, get up. We have to get stuff ready
“(Picking her head off Cherise’s shoulder with droopy eyes) No way. It’s Sunday!”
She then slams her head down into Cherise’s shoulder. And that’s why you have two kids…