Monday, September 19, 2011

Stop me if you've heard this one...

You are sitting somewhere waiting for something (as is usually how we seem to spend most of our time) and the children are out of control and causing an uproar (which, although we deny it, is how they usually seem to spend most of their time).  The usual tricks to wrangle and occupy them have failed, and at your wits end, you have an idea: "Knock knock" you say.  They look at you.  "What?"  "I say 'knock knock', you say 'who's there'.  Knock knock."  "Who's there" "Dwayne" "Who's Dwayne?" "No, you say 'Dwayne who'"  "Oh, Dwayne who" "Dwayne the bathtub, I'm drowning!"  Pause.  Crickets chirping.  They wait for more, but suddenly, the blonde gets it.  Her eyes widen, gasp, laughing hysterically, like Fran Drescher out of breath laughing.  Yes!  Score mom!  The brunette sees the blonde laughing, and whether or not she got the joke, she too lets out uproarious laughter, albeit a little forced, but laughing nonetheless.  The baby sees the two sisters and not wanting to be left out of a good laugh, joins in, looking at them, looking at me, looking back at them to make sure we're all still laughing, and we are.  "Tell us another one!"  And so you dish out the regular basic knock knocks - "orange you glad I din't say banana" and the like.  A smashing success!  The children are gathered around you listening attentively, you are the coolest and funniest person EVER, and even if they are laughing a little obnoxiously by now, they are keeping their hands to themselves - bonus.   But now, a turn.  You have run out of knock knock jokes, and they want more, so you take the next step in child entertainment, which is to teach the craft so they can entertain themselves.  The blonde understands the format, and does an excellent funny voice for the Dwayne joke, and even takes some creative liberties.  "Knock knock" "Who's there" "Chair" "Chair who" "Chair you're sitting in a chair!"  Followed by peals of laughter from all the sisters, particularly the joke teller herself.  Hmm, not quite...well, whatever, she thinks it's funny.  Even better, the brunette takes a stab, "Knock knock" "Who's there" "I'm drowning!" Hysterical laughter.  Ok, maybe this one needs to be corrected, or at least not told in public.  They love knock knock jokes so much that they tell them to their grandparents on the phone, and one even mails them a knock knock joke book, from which you will read each and very one, and hear them misquoted over and over, to the delight of all of the girls.  The baby even knows when to start laughing, and goes so far as to squat down while the joke is being told so she can jump up at the punchline laughing.  And now, even though their technique is questionable, and the constant stream of "knock knock" occasionally seems annoying, the effect is just what that of a good knock knock joke should be - a bunch of laughing little kids.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Put up your dukes.

The girls fight over just about everything any other sisters would fight over - shoes, toys, the usual - but there is one thing they fight about that just blows my mind.  Not so much what they are fighting about, but the depth and frequency of these arguments is just unreal.  I'm not joking - they are fighting over things that are not real.  Allow me to enlighten you.  A cartoon comes on, say Strawberry Shortcake.  Right away, before the theme song even starts, the blonde will shout out "I'm Strawberry Shortcake!"  The brunette, rage building in her little sparkle nail polished fists, shouts back "No!  I'M Strawberry Shortcake!  You are the blueberry girl!", and the gloves come off.  They yell at each other, disputing the other's right to claim imaginary beingness or whatever this would be, and start circling.  Shouting, crying, yelling.  If the argument is unresolved verbally, which is always the case, they move to round two - blows.  Apparently, besides shouting it out, the only other way to claim which cartoon friend you get to "be" is to touch them on the TV.  Yes.  So now, each girl simultaneously realizes that round two has commenced (was there a bell?) and both children lunge at the TV, pushing each other out of the way to keep their hand on the character whose persona they wish to assume.  Kicking, biting, karate, the whole bit.  "No!  I'm touching Strawberry Shortcake, I'm her!"  "No, your hand is on Lemon girl!  I am Strawberry Shortcake!"  It continues like this for a while, and normally when the girls fight and it gets physical I'll step in, but I just can't believe they are fighting over which imaginary character they will be, so I watch confused and let it unfold.  It just doesn't make any sense to me, can't they both be Strawberry Shortcake?  And what does "being" Strawberry Shortcake even mean?  We don't have any costumes to match these characters, so it's not an outfit they are fighting over, and as far as I knew, they were just going to sit and watch the show - will there be a reenactment later that I didn't know about?  I am stumped.  As I consider all possibilities for what the root of this intense fighting could really be, negotiations have begun.  "Ok, fine, you can be Strawberry Shortcake, but I get to be Plum Pudding and the kitty."  "Fine, but I get the Strawberry car, too."  "Alright, but you have to let me borrow it to drive to the cafe."  "Ok."  Both girls wipe the blood off of their faces (not really, this is just for dramatic effect, of course no one is really bleeding) and go back to the couch, sit next to each other and watch the rest of the show.  That's it.  They don't do anything that would indicate that one of them is "being" any of the characters, they just sit there and enjoy the show.  Um, what just happened? 

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Build them up right.

When I was a kid, my brothers and I built epic forts.  Like, spanning the house, using every piece of furniture, eating lunch in it and begging my parents to let us sleep inside.  Awesome.  So, as my memories of fort building are so totally rad, I figure I'd share this joy with my girls.  I begin simple.  Two chairs, one blanket, easy to crawl in and out of, easy to fix when the baby pulls it down (to the horror of the big girls).  Nice!  Everyone likes it, we have popcorn with at least our heads inside, and it is cool for a good couple of hours, which in child-attention time, is like three years.  Since this first positive fort experience, they have shown up every couple of weeks as a nice every-one-is-freaking-out-hurry-lets-make-a-fort solution for playtime.  Only now, the blonde has begun to get involved in the construction, which is nice for her to be able to do it without my help, but also creates a problem.  If she builds it, obviously, no one else can come in.  Of course this is an open invitation for the brunette to start throwing things on top of it in an effort to bring it down, which usually succeeds, as the blonde has yet to master the delicate art of fort stability.  The blonde screams, the baby thinks it is funny and climbs atop the wreckage, the brunette runs aways from the blows of the enraged architect.  Typically, I like to "let them work it out", which really just means I don't feel like arguing with emotionally explosive children over a fort, but if it gets violent, I'll put down the crossword puzzles and step in.  "That was not very nice to tear down your sister's fort.  Big sister, it would be nice if you would share the fort.  Say sorry and play nicely".  So, the fort goes back up, they play nicely for a while, and then the brunette (a natural force of destruction) decides the fort would fare better as a hammock.  The blonde agrees and the challenge of figuring out how to lay on top of the blankets without it falling down begins.  I know they might be able to figure it out, but it is not likely (remember, the blonde is only in the amateur stage of fort building skill), so again, I intervene, suggesting bringing pillows underneath to make it a fun place to read books, reminding them that trying to sit on top of the fort will probably make it fall down and get someone hurt.  Well, they like the pillow idea, so I turn my attention elsewhere, thinking they are peacefully sharing books and being excellent children in the coolest fort any mom ever let her kids play in.  Then - BAM! AHHHHH! - apparently, they misinterpreted my suggestion for pillows, and have instead used them as an intended landing pad for when they jump over the side of the fort to try to lay on top.  Although I admire the prospect of safety precautions, it was poorly executed, and I had already explained that forts are for going under, not being on top of.  Naturally, I threaten to take down the fort if it is not used properly.  The brunette recovers from any injuries she may have sustained from the failed hammock, and appropriate fort play resumes.  Only seconds later, another crash and toppled chairs prove that my warning was ignored and the tempting call of the fun to be had in a hammock has overpowered them.  The fort comes down.  (I have to follow through on threats otherwise they will surely mutiny and I will lose my powers.)  This leads to general fit throwing and whining, as is expected, but there is a curve ball, a reaction not yet seen in our house.  The blonde yells at me that I cannot take down her fort and I am a mean mom (yawn, I've heard it before) and then she SPANKS ME.  Straight up lays one across my backside.  Not cool.  Isolation time out, a stern "you are not allowed to spank your parents!" and the brunette is left standing in disbelief at the show of blatant disrespect she has just witnessed.  (Or she's wondering where she put Jasmine Barbie's other shoe.)  I collect myself, and go see the blonde for what I call the "debriefing".  As I am explaining that children are not allowed to spank their moms, I see a stray booger sliding out of her nose, and I know she needs a tissue, but I also know if I cut short the lesson I am trying to impart to get a tissue, then the lesson may be lost.  And then, before I have another second to weigh getting a tissue or finishing the "talk", she just sucks it up.  And not back into her nose.  Now I am laughing and gagging at the same time and the lesson is lost anyways.  Meanwhile, the brunette has reconstructed the fort (kind of) and is waiting for her sister with a pile of books underneath.