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.