Sometimes kids just need a little help figuring things out. I know the current trend in child-rearing is to stay out of their hassles whenever possible, let them problem solve and all that crap, but is it worth it when you feel you might have a stroke if you listen for one more second to their ridiculous arguments?
It happened just the other night. My four children decided a game of inside hide-and-seek was in order. Keep in mind, our inside hide-and-go-seek has one slight adjustment from the traditional, outdoor, no-holds-barred, flying-through-the-air-to-the-base version I grew up playing.
The kids aren’t allowed to run in the house, so the first person found in each round is “it.” This creates a slightly more competitive mood, which is basically the last thing my kids need. They do “insanely competitive” all by themselves. In the indoor version, a perfect hiding place is imperative. I once caught one child pulling the empty racks out of the dishwasher, preparing to climb inside it. I asked her how she planned to close the door. She had no answer. I didn’t even have to say, “Get the hell out of the dishwasher!” which was what I was thinking. All I had to do was illuminate the problem and she solved it. She went and got the plunger and stuck it to the inside of the door. See, I pay attention to those books once in awhile.
Other times, it’s not so easy.
On this particular night, as I sat in the reading room, reading the same paragraph over for the tenth time, I had to step in and say something when I heard the following exchange, or some similar variation for the twentieth time. Keep in mind, the conversationalists, such as they were, were at opposite ends of a 3500 square-foot, two-story house.
“I need more time! Seventy seconds isn’t enough!”
“Yes it is!”
“No it isn’t; I need eighty seconds!”
“No you don’t, Jackson. Just find a spot.”
Fine! I’ll count to seventy-five.”
“What? No way! That’s only five more seconds. Kee, that’s not enough time! You always count longer when you and your friends play!”
“Nuh-uh! I’m counting now! One, two, three, four…”
“Kee, stop! Wait! What are you counting to? Eighty? Keely?”
“…five, six, seven…”
“KEELY!! WHAT ARE YOU COUNTING TO??”
That was me. I had to step in and settle this, once and for all. I continued:
“Count to 100. That’s it, every time. If you can’t find a hiding place by then you are disqualified from that round. You will spend the time dusting the bookshelves while everyone else plays. I’ll get the Pledge.”
Miraculously, there was no more complaining about the counting. In fact, the counter slowed down a step, knowing that if even one person was disqualified, it would throw off the whole dynamic. Everyone knows you can’t play hide-and-go-seek with just three people.