I wonder is it ever right,
to ignore your kids when they fight?
This, you will be pleased to hear, is not the poem I have been working on. That would be a very sad state of affairs indeed. No, this was the refrain that entered my head when my girls had been home from school for about, oh five minutes.
My kids are really good at fooling people. Everyone thinks they are little angels, paragons of virtues and that butter would certainly not melt. A family friend calls them “The Smilers.” This came about after we went camping with a group of friends in the Lake District in the summer. The Lakes in the wettest summer the UK has had for one hundred years was not the best idea any of us had had. But did the girls mind? Not one bit. There were no complaints, whines or sighing. They played happily together, and were charming and adorable. They were two rays of sunshine in the gloomy wet Cumbrian countryside, and everyone fell for it.
This act is not reserved for family and friends alone. I had my grocery shopping delivered on Friday (I never go to the supermarket if I can help it). To me, grocery shopping is uninteresting and unexciting. To my kids, it’s almost as good as Christmas. They run around like lunatics screaming as they delve into the packets and boxes and bottles. Their excitement knows no bounds as they search for their favourite items. If there is anything new or different I sometimes worry that their little heads will explode. This has been happening every week for the last two years, and the pleasure they derive from this seemingly mundane task shows no sign of abating.
This week, however, the girls were at school when the delivery came. The delivery driver asked me where they were. “We always say if we have seen the little blonde girls when we get back to the store” he said smiling. “Sucker” I thought.
Added to all this cute behaviour, is the fact that they are twins. People really seem to have a fascination with multiple births as I found out after I had the girls. I was unable to go anywhere without being stopped at least twice by total strangers who wanted to have a look at my children. Little old ladies were the worst. At first I thought that this was because they were new born babies and this happened to everyone. Then, one day, I was taking a walk with a friend who had a daughter about the same age as my girls. After being stopped for the third time, she asked “Does this happen often?” “Yes,” I replied. “Doesn’t it to you?” “No,” she said giving me an odd look.
People also have all sorts of theories and preconceptions about twins: from being telepathic to making ‘informed’ judgements about which is the elder of the two. I don’t buy into any of this. The only thing I have read about twins which I have found to be true, at least in the case of my girls, is sibling rivalry. The book I read (I don’t remember the title) stated that if they had a disagreement it would readily spill over into violence. It said that even if your twins would never hit another child or even another sibling they would kick the be-je-sus out of each other. Ok it didn’t say this exactly but you get the picture.
As every parent knows, your kids always start fighting when you have left the room. With mine it usually starts after I have said “I just need to do the washing-up/make your tea/make a phone call etc.” These words are like a red rag to a pair of angry young bulls and I don’t know why I say them. I would be better off just sneaking off and doing whatever thing it is I need to. But say them I do inadvertently sparking off World War Three. I can almost guarantee I will be out of the room for less than a minute before the squabbling starts. This quickly escalates to shouting, through to screaming, and climaxes in physical violence. I then bellow like a demented fishwife at them from what ever room I am in, in the vain hope that they will stop. Of course they don’t, so I have to stop what I’m doing and try and calm the situation. I then return to whatever the hell it is I’m trying to do, and the whole thing starts up again. And again. And again. And again.
Having a baby is physically demanding. Having two four year olds falling out over something that even they can’t remember is emotionally draining. That’s why when it happened this evening, and my banshee-like screams had had no effect, I thought to myself, “Sod it. They are not going to kill each other or actually break any bones. At a push they might draw blood, but only at a push. And they need to learn how to sort out their disagreements themselves.” So I carried on putting the laundry away, which is when this little ditty entered my head. I then heard the actual slaps they were giving each other, and hurried downstairs to sort out their latest skirmish.