I haven't written much in the past week, and in my opinion, my output has dipped quite a bit in the past month. I'm writing this as an explanation. I'm busy. I have two kids that keep me running and continually off balance. It's crazy around here; you have no idea. I've written a number of pieces called 'A Day in the Life', which try to capture what life is like with these two little people. But they do a poor job at capturing the density of everyday activity, because I just can't write that much. But maybe if I concentrate on just one hour you can get an idea...
Mama had gone to work and I was downstairs with the kids watching videos. They've been changed, dressed, and have eaten and are moderately content. I hadn't eaten, but I had had my coffee, which is much more important. I've got my laptop with me -- plugged in because the battery seems to hold only fifteen minutes of charge -- and I'm doing my preliminary webcrawl of the day. I find a great piece by one of my favourite 'big picture' writers, Robert D. Kaplan, called 'The Media and Medievalism'. It's a little long, but I start to read it. How long will it take me?
We're watching 'Blue's Clues' (starring Steve, of course) because Talia demanded it. We have only three BC tapes, but Max and Talia can watch them over and over. The first episode on the tape is over and the second is just starting. I manage to read over a paragraph and a half before Max climbs up next to me with this ancient book from the Seventies my brother-in-law picked up at a garage sale that focuses on the amazing world on motorized transport. It has many pictures of of vehicles in that icky commercial art style of the era. He says, "Tuck! Tuck!", meaning he wants to look at the pictures of trucks. I hook him onto my lap with one arm and hold the book for him. He turns the pages on his own, happy to be sharing this wonderful resource with his Papa and expressing astonishment with each page. Meanwhile, I'm feigning interest in the 'tucks' while rereading the second paragraph on the article. Talia is watching the show while playing with some Fisher Price 'Peek-a-boo Blocks'.
I'm on the third paragraph when Steve whips out his handy-dandy...
Right. The show has a strange way of capturing your attention.
Max is now losing interest in the book and is starting to twist towards the computer. I know from past experience how fast he can be, and also that the button he wants to push is the big round one that shuts the computer down -- no 'are you sures?', just an automatic power-down. I move it out of his reach and get a better grip on him. I scroll the page I'm reading down to reveal unread text and try to let my eyes rest on a few new words.
Talia approaches me with some of her blocks, and says, "Pus! Pus!" Some of these blocks can make sounds if you manipulate them properly, but Talia is still working out how to do that. I take one of them and make the clicking sound for her. Unfortunately, Max -- with his long reach -- also takes one. This one block, out of many, many blocks, and just one toy out of dozens and dozens strewn around the floor, now becomes the center of a major confrontation. Talia wants it back. Max doesn't want to give it up. Both start screaming.
Distraction is the key to these disputes. I grab the nearest toy animal -- another gift of my brother-in-law: a smirking chihuahua that will hump your leg when you turn it on (the batteries are dead now, sadly) -- and make it jump on Talia to lick her face. It turns around in a circle and barks and jumps, and soon both of them have forgotten the standoff over the plastic block with the monkey inside it. They're giggling. But both of them are now focused on me for their entertainment, so I've got get them interested in something else if I'm ever going to crack that fourth paragraph. Hey look at the TV! I feign an intense interest in what's happening with Blue and Steve (Periwinkle and a tractor have joined them for a trip to an imaginary city where they're looking for the tractor's friend, a taxi cab). I ask Max and Talia questions about what's going on, and soon their attention is diverted enough that I manage to get through another three or four paragraphs.
Then: "Taya pee-pee!" Okay, time to take Talia upstairs for a session on the potty. I carefully hide the computer under the sofa (because you can't imagine what Max can do to it in just a few minutes) and take Talia upstairs. Except now she doesn't want to go. Something's happened on the show that has captured her attention and now she's looking at the TV and saying, "No pee-pee! No pee-pee!" No point trying to drag her up, she'll just scream; I take out the computer, sit down and read perhaps a sentence before: "Taya pee-pee! Taya pee-pee!" I hide the computer and hustle her upstairs.
Once she's sitting, she starts making demands. "Book! Book!"
"What do you say?"
"Peez!", she says sweetly. I give her a book. She drops it and says, "Book! Book!" She wants the other book.
I look at her sharply. She says, "Peez..." We're getting there.
The potty's just a little big for her, and she swings her legs as she flips through the other book. Finally she gets up and says, "Ah-done!" There's maybe 5 ccs of liquid in the cup. Once she's dressed, she runs into the kitchen and demands a cookie. I figure a cookie will distract them for a couple of minutes, so, once I coax the 'P' word out of her, I grab a couple of cookies, hook her under my arm and take her downstairs.
I give them their cookies and try to decide what to watch next. Blue's Clues has just concluded. We have a DVD of 'Finding Nemo', Talia has been interested in fish for a while, so, maybe that'll be good. They've never seen it, but maybe they can get something out of it. And maybe I'll get enough quiet to finish this article. I slap it in and let them watch.
It's got a few scary bits in it, so Max has curled up next to me. Max is pretty sensitive about these things. Talia is standing in the middle of the room watching. I get about ten minutes of reading in before Talia starts heading upstairs. I call her back down, but she doesn't listen. Because I'm cuddled with Max, I don't want to run up after her, so I set my internal trouble timer for five minutes and leave her alone. She can't get in too much trouble in that time. I try to read a bit more, but I'm distracted.
When the trouble timer goes off, I go up and see what she's up to. She's sitting on her little tricycle and pushing herself around. Someone must have brought it inside. I take her and it downstairs so she can continue to play.
Back downstairs and reading, I manage another few sentences before another confrontation is underway. Max has somehow taken the tricycle away from Talia and is sitting on it and rocking back and forth. Talia is shrieking at the injustice of it all. This will be a difficult situation to resolve. I pick up Talia and try some intense cuddling and tickling to distract her. She's having none of that; she arches her back and squirms and screams. I sit her on the couch and call up some pictures on the computer. She loves to look at pictures and is soon happily naming all the people she sees and answering my questions about what colour things are. Max has now abandoned the tricycle and is back to watching the movie, but I have the feeling the confrontation would erupt again if Talia were to touch it. It's still his property.
Eventually I get her watching the movie again, but their attention doesn't last. First Max starts heading upstairs, then Talia follows. We've had enough TV, I guess, so I take the computer upstairs and plug it in on the kitchen counter. I've finished almost two thirds of the article! I put together a snack for them. They get cut-up dates with Cheerios in two little bowls. Max eats all his dates first, and Talia eats all her Cheerios. Then Max spills his Cheerios on the floor and raids Talia's bowl for more dates while she picks up and eats Max's Cheerios. Since screaming is not involved in these activities, I pay little mind as I start getting close to the end of the article.
Once Max is done, he grabs my leg and says, "Mee! Mee!" This means 'More! More!', but I tell him he's had enough. This was not the answer he was hoping for so he starts shrieking. Again.
Looking at the clock, I say, "I think someone's tired. Would you like to have a sleepy?" Max doesn't seem too keen, but Talia is already climbing the stairs. I pour them a couple of cups of water and carry Max upstairs. He's sniffling a bit when I put him in bed, but he accepts it and is happy to take his cup of water -- or "ow" as they both now call it. Talia easily lies down in bed and takes her cup. As I close the door to their room they're already falling asleep.
I get down to the kitchen, and in five minutes finish the article! (I can't say much for my comprehension though...)