Wednesday, December 3, 2008

2 kids = chaos, 5 kids = peace!

Yes the title seems to be true. At least on Monday at our house it was!

Monday I watched a friends 3 kids: R who is 3.5, K who is 2, and Baby J who is 7 months. The two older are girls, each about 10 months younger than my 2 boys, and kids that my boys have played with many times. The little guy, is just a peanut, and will be exactly a year older that our little Tater Tot when he/she joins us.

My friend, L, and I, have known each other a while, but really gotten close since she had Baby J and stopped working full-time. Now she's training for a really cool job in L&D at nights. But of course, training is during the day, so myself and some other mutual friends have offered to help out and watch her 3.

In my mind, nothing to it. Yes, it's more bodies to watch out for. But I know my kids, and they like having new playmates - they get tired of each other ever once in a while!!! I also know that my kids tend to be better behaved when out in public than when at home, so either that will be true for her kids, or my kids will behave because there are other kids around, or both.

Anyway.... Monday turned out to be a pretty good day. Her kids were here by 6:30 am, while mine slept until 7:30. Okay, I'm not good at mornings, but the girls weren't quite awake yet, so a movie and exploring a new house, kept them happily entertained.

By the time the boys were awake, I'd already noticed SO many differences between her 2 girls and my 2 boys. Maybe it's boys vs. girls, maybe it's hers vs. mine, maybe it's the age differences, or maybe it was just the way things were that day. Differences such as: when a kid show is on (which happens a few times a day), my boys watch tv, as in they sit on the couch and watch-INTENTLY; the girls want a show on, and then play and ignore most of it, except for the songs which they sing and dance to - something you won't EVER find my boys doing (and they looked at the girls like they were strange when they did!!). Differences such as how they interacted: when my two play alone, T makes the game/rules and B follows along-pretty happily most of the time-they get loud and they get rough; the girls played for the first hour they were here without my boys around-it was almost SILENT-and they pretty much completely ignored each other! Just interesting differences....

The day continued, and we survived. I appealed to T that he was the oldest, and that I needed him as my helper. And of course that him being a good helper would be rewarded by helping with Christmas decorations after dinnner. There were no major meltdows.... a few attempts at it by R, K, and B. But those were thwarted by my lack of interest! I blatantly told all 3 of them, "Sure lie on the floor and have a fit, I'm going over here to play with X." Each time, they had a little bit of a crying fit, and sniffled, but got over it pretty fast since everyone else was doing something fun and they weren't getting any attention. Yay me!!

And that (and a few other things) made me realize that my past teaching career does have a use! If only I could use it every day when only my kids are here. But somehow, that doesn't seem to happen. When it's just me and my boys, I feel comfortable enough to lose it and scream, and then the boys know they've gotten to me. I must not let them know that.... I could clearly see the benefits of staying calm on Monday....

There was a point when 4 of 5 kids slept (T never naps so no surprise there). I think they were all asleep for about 45 minutes. But they staggered their naps, so that for quite some time, there were only 2 awake at a time. Nice quiet break for me!

It was also interesting to watch tke kids and Baby J interact. 3 of the 4 kids pretty much ignored him all day. Who didn't? Can you guess? Trevor. T was enamored with him for most of the day. He wanted to hold him, play with him, give him a bottle, anything and everything. Any time Baby J moved, T told me about it "he rolled over", "he's playing with the elmo toy" etc. etc. None of the rest of the kids really cared. So, is this another age difference? Is this personality? Is it because the girls are used to him being around and don't notice so much? Who knows.... but it will be interesting to see how both T and B are when Tater Tot arrives!

The most interesting 'change' came when the girls and Baby J went home. Literally 5 seconds after the door closed behind them, T & B were back to "Boys will be Boys". They were using every kung-fu move they've ever seen or could imagine, tackling each other, screaming, yelling, chasing, etc. They were WILD! The night went way downhill, VERY fast! They couldn't even sit still for a special treat to watch "Shrek the Halls". They were just amped up and crazy!!! It was strange how fast and easily that shift happened, once the other kids left!

So, I'm watching them again a few more times this month, on days I don't work (which aren't many), but I think it will be good. I debated doing an art project with all of them, and maybe I will, and maybe I won't.... we'll see how the next time goes!!

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