For those of you who were wondering: N did a great job on breakfast and lunch yesterday. Dinner, however, was another story. He flat-out refused to do his job, choosing instead to run into his bedroom and hide under his blanket. No amount of pep talk, stern lecturing, or cajoling could get him to come out. Eventually E and I took over N’s job and got dinner on the table in about ten minutes.
When they were all sitting around the table, I opened up the discussion: “What do you guys think is a fair consequence for someone not doing their kitchen job?” When that failed to elicit thoughtful responses I changed tack: “Can someone tell me what harm is done when someone doesn’t do their job?” Eventually we all agreed that shirking one’s duty is annoying and disrespectful to everyone else, and that the penalty should be no swimming or boating for the entire next day.
Kids are creative, though, so today K found a way around having to do all the work herself. She “traded” with me, Mr. December, and R: she’d cook one meal on each of our days in exchange for us cleaning up for her today. Even with that concession, she managed to find things to be grumpy about; and when K ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.
Today was a weird day. It was very windy and overcast and the water was rough. Thunderstorms had been forecast for today, so as soon as the rain started falling I pulled the girls out of the lake. We spent most of the day inside watching “How It’s Made” videos, reading, and snacking out of boredom. We started to watch a movie and then stopped when nobody liked it. K’s moodiness just added furstration to our boredom, and we were all on edge.
After dinner I went down to the fire pit to start a campfire, but the kindling was all wet and nothing would catch. Some lighter fluid, a lot of fanning, and one hour later we finally had a roaring fire. I pulled out the guitar and started to sing. The first few songs were fine, but R was still off in a corner reading her book and K was still being a bit obnoxious. Then Mr. December requested the “Corner Grocery Store” song, and our day did a 180-degree turn.
The kids went from “I’m-just-here-for-the-marshmallows-and-I-don’t-want-to-be-nice-to-anyone” to “pleeeeease sing that again!” I sang verses based on their suggestions, rhyming “mango” with “fandango” (because the mango is tired of dancing the tango); we sang about marshmallows hugging all their fellows; and how the trees ate up the cheese, which was crawling on its knees. By the time the song was over, everyone was giggling and singing along.
As we moved on to other songs, K turned over a rock and found a slug. She showed the rest of us and E immediately ran to get her tweezers, bug net, and petri dish so we could examine it up close. The kids clamoured to hold the dish and look at “Sluggy” while E insisted that we take him back to the house so we could find him in her bug book (for the record, he was a banana slug.) The kids then sprinkled Sluggy with salt and took pictures with him before unceremoniously flinging his remains back into the woods.
That’s how our day ended: with songs, giggling, sibling cooperation, and a well-salted slug; and to think that only a few short hours ago I had thought the only good thing about this day was that it would eventually end. As Mr. December pointed out, you never really know what will grab the kids’ interest and get them all excited and working together. I guess the important thing is to notice and enjoy it when they do.