Thursday, December 8, 2011

The Twin Fight or Why I'm Hated on the Playground

This might place me firmly in the bad parent category, I'm not sure. I know that some mothers laugh with me, and some laugh at me (when they're not busy throwing daggers my way.) What could be so polarizing, you ask?

Playground politics.

Fortunately, I never have to deal with my children terrorizing other people's kids (yet...who knows, right?) so whether or not Johnny threw sand at Sally intentionally and who owes whom an apology has yet to be an issue.

My children do, however, terrorize each other. Usually they get along great, but when a perceived slight has been issued, watch out. You're about to get your hearing testing.

It's an immediate flare-up of the loudest kind. The shriek of the disadvantaged twin is only equaled and outlasted by the return shriek of the twin with the advantage, after, of course, the first twin pounces on her and pulls her hair or some such nonsense.

From zero to violent hoodlums in literally .03 seconds.

Now, that doesn't give me much time, does it? And maybe it's the way they're raised at home, sure, but I doubt it. I think they're simply three and sharing a life with someone else is hard.

Still, when I don't magically appear in those .03 seconds to reprimand, scold, hug and "have the talk" Full-House style, the stares of horror start immediately.

You'd think these people had never seen a set of twin toddlers before. Maybe they haven't. Even if you are used to it, the twin fight is a majestic and horrifying thing of beauty and pain.

So, I wait. One second, two seconds, five seconds, ten. About ten seconds is as long as I'll give it, but those seconds are necessary. Think of a twin fight like tissue paper on fire. The blaze is initially all-consuming, bright, hot and powerful. And it's over in a flash.

So that should I be right there on top of them the moment unrest breaks out, my presence will do nothing but exacerbate the situation, adding a box of tissues to what was once just the one. Because now, you see, they have mommy's attention. Now they have an audience. It's as if my very closeness gives that fire oxygen. No thanks.

I'll take the mommy stares over that any day. And stare they do. Pointed, judgmental looks telling me that I'm disrupting their little pumpkins' playdate, and I should just go home and die under a rock. I don't mean to laugh at them, they've got a point. It is shocking to hear a piercing shriek out of nowhere. It might be disconcerting to see a veritable brawl before your eyes and no parent in sight. But I'm there, yes, I am. I'm right there. Waiting for my window of opportunity, that precious 15-second gap between the first flare up and the actual fight. If I can intercede after the first thrust of anger diminishes, before the other feelings of pain, disgust, and the unfairness of it all set in, I'm golden. I can distract them, and we can all move on.

So the absolute last thing I need is a well-meaning (or not) parent approaching me during that crucial time (I only get 15 seconds, people, let's keep it quick!) and telling me how to parent.

I don't need to hear about it, I need to do it. The shriek, the wait period, and my swoop in happen in the space of a minute. Then all reverts to normal. In the meantime, I apologize to your bleeding ears.

3 comments:

  1. There was a study saying that the best thing to do when your kids are having a tantrum / totally losing it is to simply leave them alone to cool down.
    http://www.npr.org/blogs/health/2011/12/05/143062378/whats-behind-a-temper-tantrum-scientists-deconstruct-the-screams

    ReplyDelete
  2. I imagine this is something that occurs on more then just playgrounds? Say shopping malls maybe?
    We don't have children (yet! I'm overdue by 2 days now)...but some prep would be great for the comings years. =)

    ReplyDelete
  3. Thank you for letting your kids learn how to handle disputes themselves.
    Twenty years from now, when they fight with their girlfriends, they won't need you to come help them solve it.

    ReplyDelete

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