Tuesday, August 14, 2012

2 > 1 + 1


When I was expecting my second child, I knew it would be a lot more work than having only one child. I figured that as much as I hoped it would be significantly less than twice the work, it would probably turn out to be twice the work. I never realized that 1 child plus 1 child equals way more than 2 children’s worth of work.

The thing about having two children is that they feed off each other. Trouble that neither one of them would ever dream of on his or her own can happen with two children working together. Take my children, for example. My 2-1/2 year old son is a curious and careful observer who noticed how the lock on the sliding glass door leading to the pool worked, so we installed a hook and eye at adult height to keep him safe. My 1 year old daughter is an adventurous explorer and climber who constantly attempts to climb up onto the seat of her scooter and then stand up. It would never occur to him to stand on the scooter and it would never occur to her to try to unlock the door, but put them together and voila! He stands up on the seat of the scooter and lets himself out the door. The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

My children are still at the age when any kind of working in tandem to make trouble is purely accidental. Unintentionally, one will distract my attention by coloring on the table while the other sneaks off to play in the potty or push the buttons on the computer. Or while I’m rescuing one who’s stuck at the top of the stairs (she can do up but not down), the other one is scaling the bookshelf to grab a butane lighter or moving the table to get at the pincushion in my sewing drawer. But I live in fear for the day when the two of them consciously work together to plot parental overthrow. I imagine a huddled discussion where Brother, age 9, whispers to Sister, age7: “OK, you get her to try to explain long division while I disassemble the toaster and get the staple gun, then we’ll rendezvous back in my bedroom to build the trebuchet!”

I suppose I should just resign myself to the fact that the two of them will be ruling the world before they’re 20. I can only hope they’ll be benevolent dictators.
King Ryan and Queen Katie, the early years
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