I have a new rule for inclusion in the Rulebook For Parents, and I assume someone is compiling such a volume because it is clearly needed. The new rule is this: No parent may set up an activity for children that requires supervision, and then bail. For example: I may not set up Rob and William with fingerpaints, as if I am some sort of Fingerpaint Fairy bestowing favors, and then say to Paul, "See you later! I'm going to the store!"
Notice how cleverly I avoid implicating Paul as the rule-breaker when I use this example. It almost seems as if I could have broken the rule myself, and was now feeling remorse. But in fact what happened was that Paul set the twins loose in the house with cups of orange juice and crayons, and then took off on a walk with William.
The twins get very little time loose in the house: they spend most of their time in their room--which is also their playroom--and the large play yard in the living room. This is because they are still destructive, mindless animals, and because they get into trouble in two different directions at once. When they are out, they require intense supervision, ideally by two adults so that one can stop Edward from pulling the tape out of a videotape while the other stops Elizabeth from pulling out handfuls of crayons and throwing them under the couch. And do you think the twins are normally allowed to have cups of sticky, sticky orange juice while they are running free? No. No, they are not.
Certainly no one would want to be the one to re-cage the twins after someone else has promised them time to roam freely. You might as well set up an air raid siren--no, two air raid sirens--right inside your house, and let them whoop until your teeth fragment and skitter to the floor. And so I was trapped: the door closed behind Paul, and Elizabeth dropped her cup. Moments later, Edward upended the crayon bin. Moments after that, Elizabeth tripped and hit her mouth and started screaming, and Edward used the ensuing fuss as an opportunity to escape into the kitchen and start emptying cupboards. If I had come up with the twin freedom idea, I would have been cursing myself; as it was, I was cursing Paul. Paul was conveniently not there to receive the curses.
I don't think I should always have to be the one issuing edicts around here, and yet that is the way it happens. Some of us seem to instinctively understand the rules, and others of us seem to need them spelled out. Writer of the rulebook, please take note.
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