Saturday, March 13, 2010

The rule of three

Q: Can three children all be happy at the same time for a period lasting longer than thirty seconds?

A: Not if they are my children, and awake.

We have this strange phenomenon in our family.

Occasionally I find myself with three unhappy kids. For instance, when everyone is sick and miserable, or I make some very unpopular announcement, like, "Oh, I guess I was mistaken, we don't have any ice cream after all."

Most of the time, though, I have at least one happy child and at least one unhappy child. The swing vote can go either way.

For instance, I might say, "Let's go to the park now." Two kids might cheer, but the other one will be engrossed in some other activity, or just feeling obstinate, and will start complaining.

Later at the park, when I tell them, "Okay, it's time to go home now." I'll likely have one kid who's ready to go eat dinner, but one starts griping that we just got there, and the other one is clinging to the jungle gym. What's funny is, that might be the same kid who didn't want to come to the park in the first place.

The kids and I just spent the entire week at home. And when I say "at home," I mean, literally "inside our home." For one week. We were visited by some nasty virus that had us all down and out, coughing and sneezing, complete with two cases of the dreaded pinkeye.

So obviously, there have been several instances of unhappiness by all of us. But spending that much time all together really drove home the point that these kids are never all happy at once.

This morning they were taking turns being grumpy, as if they had some sort of invisible cranky baton they were passing between themselves, until I suggested they make welcome home cards for Daddy. (Oh, did I not mention that my husband has been out of town on business for this entire week?) The boys loved the idea, and got right to work.

My daughter was still playing happily in the other room. We had a moment of peace lasting about ten seconds. Then she started getting mad about some toy that was frustrating her, so I invited her to join us in the kitchen to draw a picture. She set cheerfully to work, and I noticed everyone was content. I started counting to myself. One one-thousand, two one-thousand, three-one thousand...

I made it almost all the way to twenty before my little princess started throwing a fit because her drawing didn't look right (I don't remember much about age three, but apparently it was a very frustrating time.) Then one of the boys stole the other one's marker. Then some paper fell on the floor. The moment was over.

And that was the last one, until about a half hour ago.

You guessed it, they are all asleep.


Cassie said...

I definitely look forward to those moments of contentment which occur only when they're asleep.

Vivobello said...

You just described my house. Exactly. In the rare moments no one is screaming about something or at someone, we take bets on how long the moment will last. Usually the person who chooses 30 seconds wins.

Love your blog!