Around here, most weekday mornings are a whirlwind of shoes and socks, toothbrushes and hairbrushes, breakfasts half eaten and cups of coffee gone cold. While Jonah, our eldest, is homeschooled, the other two are not. Samuel is in school every morning, and Cate is in three mornings a week. So, pointed in the same direction, we must all be, toward the garage, and the magical grr-woosh of the mini-van door, by 8:30-ish, sharp.
Sundays are the same, except breakfast is bigger, and our destination is church.
It is on Saturdays that things relax, or fall apart, depending on the day and the moods of the children (or their parents, but I admit nothing). On Saturdays, one of us (whoever lost the Friday night negotiations) gets out of bed, pours cereal and turns on cartoons. Then goes back to bed, for another thirty minutes of sleep, if we are really, really lucky. This leaves the children alone. With each other. And no supervision. We are not the kind of parents who hover, but on Saturday mornings, we just let chaos reign. We think it is good for them. They learn to stand up for themselves and resolve their own disputes. At least that is our story. And if we get to sleep until seven o'clock -- yes, I said seven, like that is late in the day or something -- then what could be the harm, really?
For the last few Saturdays their battle of choice has been over what I call the "four sided piano." This is a small table like contraption, with a different noise making device on each side. Only one side is a fake piano. The other sides are a fake computer, a fake phone, and a fake book. A book that plays music. They all play music, I only mention the book because it seems odd to me. A book that plays a different song with every turn of the page. Strange, right?
The four sided piano is only the battle ground. The actual fight is over whose song is going to get played. You see, every key, button, page turn overrides that one right before it. So, Jonah might only get to hear four notes of "Froggy Went A-Courtin'" before Cate pushes a button and "Turkey in the Straw" comes on, for a split second, before Sam pushes a button and "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star," (Or is it "The ABC Song"? I always get those two mixed up.) comes on.
Last Saturday, I happened to witness this. So, I decided to parent. I went over, sat on the floor next to the four sided piano, and calmly explained to my children that they were going to take turns. Cate first, since technically, it is her toy. She pushed a button. She heard her song. Then Jonah pushed a button. He danced a jig to his song. Then Sam pushed a button, and shook his booty to his song. And, repeat. It worked really well. For about one and half times around. Once they had to take turns, it stopped being fun. I kept offering them their turn, but they didn't care anymore.
And then I realized: They did not want the toy. They wanted the fight.
This mom thing is pretty awesome. By simply watching my own children, I was able to sum up human nature and de-mystify centuries of history. All before I'd had my coffee.
Here is Samuel, dancing at the four legged piano,
encouraged by his brother Jonah.
If you are wondering why he is not facing the camera,
it is because he is looking at this reflection in the fireplace.
Oh, and excuse the mess.
Until you have walked a mile with my kids,
you can not judge.