July 4, 2014
By Ekta R. Garg
Enjoy these Spurts from the last two weeks, readers!
Since turning eight years old, my older child has turned up the dial on her quips.
Earlier this week I had packed a salad for my husband’s lunch, and he enjoyed it so much that he asked for a salad for the next day too. I found a different container for the salad but used the same mini container for the salad dressing. I wanted to make sure he understood where I would put the dressing container in his lunch box.
“Are you going to remember any of this,” I asked, “or will you forget?”
With a glass of wine in his hand and half of his attention on the TV, he nodded. “I’ll remember.”
Eight, sitting next to her father on the sofa, shook her head. “He won’t remember.”
I grinned, partially because of her timing but mostly because she had a really good shot at being right.
On Wednesday the girls had a swimming lesson, the first in a few weeks. Between the end of the school year and some commitments their teacher had, we had a little bit of a break between lessons and I wondered whether the kids would have trouble easing back into them. But they actually did really well.
Later that evening when their dad came home, I described to him how well they’d done. Their teacher even tried something new: she took a long paddle and placed it lengthwise into the deep end. Then she made the kids essentially “climb” to the floor of the deep end, touch it, and then push off so they could come back to the surface of the water.
When I described this to my husband, he turned to the kids.
“So what did you do when you got to the bottom of the paddle? Did you just hang out there?”
“No!” Five said.
“But I thought you two were fish.”
“We haven’t developed our gills yet,” Eight said immediately with a grin.
This summer I’ve also watched the kids get into mini scrapes with Five becoming the confessor.
One day after exercising I gave the kids their lunch and then headed upstairs to take a shower. Before I got in the water I heard something from the dining room and stopped to listen. When I didn’t hear any crying or yelling, I decided to get in the shower and then check on the kids.
I guess Five couldn’t wait. After I got out of the shower and got dressed, I stood in the bathroom and combed my hair and my younger child came to tell me what had happened.
“Okay, so don’t get mad about this,” she said by way of introduction.
“I was sitting at the table and knocked down my glass with my elbow.”
“Di-Di and I cleaned it up,” she went on. “She used the blue towel to wipe up the water on the table, and I used some napkins to clean it off the floor.”
I have to admit, that impressed me. “Okay, well, thank you for telling me.”
“I thought you would get mad,” she said, following me out of the room.
I turned and knelt to get eye level. “What have I told you before about you guys doing something wrong?”
“If we do something wrong and we come and tell you about it, then you won’t get mad.”
“Right,” I said. “Did your lunch get wet?”
“Okay. I appreciate that you came and told me about knocking over the water, but next time just be careful, all right? That’s why you have to watch what you’re doing at the table.”
I think she felt relieved that I didn’t resort to my lecture stance. And I mean what I say when I tell the kids that I won’t get upset (at least, not for a long time) if they tell me they did something wrong. I’m trying to set a precedent here for when they become teenagers and really start doing stupid things.
A day or two later Five came running to me with the same look on her face, although this time she didn’t actually utter the words “Don’t get mad at me.”
“Okay,” she said, a little out of breath, “Di-Di and I were playing this game…”
I’ll have to admit, I didn’t really concentrate on all the details of the game. The majority of the games Eight and Five play come from their own inventions or from extensions of the television shows they watch. And I knew something had happened, and I was more interested in the punchline.
“Di-Di and I locked the door, and now we can’t get in.”
Once again, I didn’t blow up or lecture. I just reminded Five that we don’t shut doors in our house, and we definitely don’t lock the doors in the house. Again, it’s about setting a precedent. When they become teens, I want them to know that I trust them but that they also have to trust me (that part’s for the teen angst I’ll get when they want to talk to their friends on the phone and don’t want me to listen.
I got the door unlocked; fortunately, we have those locks on the doors that you can unlock with a quick little twist from this side of the door. Then I reminded her one last time about the door and left her and her big sister to their devices.
I’m glad Five came to me right away. I hope she keeps doing so in the future.
One night as I said goodbye to the girls, I gave Five a goodnight hug and suddenly she said to me, “I don’t want to get a job when I grow up.”
“Well, not everyone gets a job when they grow up,” I said. “Some girls grow up and get married and have kids and take care of their kids.”
“I don’t want to grow up.”
“Because taking care of kids is hard.”
“That’s true,” I said, tickling her. “Especially when you have stink pink kids like mine who drive you nuts.”
“What, Mamma?” Eight said. “We drive you to get nuts?”
The two fell into a fit of giggles. I just shook my head and rolled my eyes.