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Tag Team

I spent yesterday evening setting up for
today’s shop and swap, and as I was laying out all the cool
gear and stuff that people had brought, I pointed out a cute little
children’s desk and chair to a friend of mine. Made of a nice
old wood and in a cute rolltop style, the desk had obviously been
in a family for years, and I pointed out that it would be fun to
re-finish and spruce up to match a child’s room.

“Yeah, all that crafty/handy stuff went out the window when
child number two flew in,” she said, and I knew exactly what
she meant.

I remember when Maddie was a toddler and
I’d sit down to lunch with her: I’d strap her into her
chair with all her lunch around her, put my feet up on a chair
across from me, open a book, and spend ten blissful minutes zoning
out while I ate my own lunch. Sure, I sat right next to her, and
sure, she’d have requests, but I could pretty much guarantee
myself a good ten minutes of sit-down time.

Now, though, I’m lucky to sit for ninety seconds at a time.
“More yogurt, please, Mommy,” Maddie will say just as
my butt hits the chair for the first time. I’ll heave up and
make a refill, sink back down into my seat, and then hear Cora pipe
up, “Mommy, more strawberries please!” They seem to
instinctively understand the art of tag-teaming, and wear me out
just to – but not beyond – the point of breaking. After
all, a broken Mommy would be of no use to them.

It’s gotten to the point where I’ll hop up and down a
few times at dinner and then announce, “Ok, Mommy’s
sitting down now and not getting up for a while, so if you need
something speak up now!” Both girls try their best, but
it’s far from perfect, and I hate to say “no” to
seconds just because my feet are tired.

The tag team thing works throughout the day as well, covering
everything from reading books in separate rooms to needing help
with simultaneous art projects to a diaper change abutting some
potty help. Just for fun sometimes they mix it up and make it
simultaneous rather than tag-teaming, usually in the form of
complimentary clamoring: one child will be having a monumental
meltdown at the EXACT MINUTE another child needs me to help get the
Cariboo game down, or one girl throws a screaming fit whilst the
other daughter is REALLY HUNGRY RIGHT NOW. This is a risky
endeavor, though, as it may well end in Mommy saying, “Mommy
needs a break!” and storming out of the room, thus leaving
both kids unfulfilled. So they try not to play that game too often.

The cycle is endless, and nowhere more evident or painful than at
night. One has a nightmare, then the other loses Silky, then the
first has a tag in the nightgown which is bothering her AT THREE
A.M. (true story). Or they’ll go for the long-term tag, where
one child gets up consistently for several nights, then sleeps
peacefully while the other one begins her chronic awakenings. I
know you know what I’m talking about.

In some ways, though, the worst form of tag team is the insidious
independent play/high needs tag. One child will be happily
ensconced in an activity – say, putting stickers all over her
legs – and you anticipate fifteen minutes to get some bills
paid before the kid notices you’re not paying attention to
her. Just as you start to sneak into the office, though, the other
child whines, “Mommy, I need you to play with me!”
These are the moments you think back to those glory days of just
one child, when you were guaranteed SOME sort of down time at SOME
point during the day – I mean, they have to pee sometime,

I honestly don’t know how people with more than two kids do
it. I guess I’d adapt and make it work, but I simply
can’t imagine having even less quiet time than I do now.

But on the bright side, if Tag Team were an Olympic sport, my kids
would be future Wheaties box covers.


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