This morning when Ted and I were trying to figure out what we should do today and how to do it, and being constantly interrupted by Hazel, I had an idea. On the strength of it, we tried something new. And that is, each of us (from the familiar subset that can talk, that is) said the thing we most wanted to do this morning. We took turns: Ted went first, and said that he really wanted to (where wanted = needed) clean the garbage bins; Hazel said that she wanted to paint something on my face; and I said that I wanted to go pick up a hook from which to hang our brooms, etc. We then figured out how to fit all of those things into our morning. Then we repeated the process to figure out the afternoon. This time, Ted wanted to get all the stuff out of the garden shed we’re going to have to take down tomorrow prior to the Rat Man’s arrival; I wanted to install the hook; and Hazel wanted to go to the Zoo (after we vetoed her first choice of the Aquarium, which is just too much of an expedition for this weekend).
Our conversation went so much better, because we deliberately included Hazel. We were all happier, and I felt much more relaxed at the end of that process than I had felt going into it. Hazel’s old enough to have her opinions included in discussions of this type that affect the whole family. It felt good to honor that.
So, while Ted took the babies for their morning walk/nap, Hazel and I painted each other’s faces, and then went to the store for the hook, and dropped off the breast pump I’m no longer using. This gave us some Mommy-Hazel time, which we both enjoyed.
When we got home it was time for lunch and nap. Ted graciously took them all down so I could catch up on the business end of my business, which is now quite a bit harder to keep abreast of, what with twins and feeding everyone and all that other time-consuming and necessary family business.
After nap one of our friends came over to accompany us to the zoo. It was a pretty hot day, but we had a good time wandering around seeing lions, flamingoes, and other zoo denizens. After that, he and we needed to go to the grocery store, so we wound up there together, shopping more or less in tandem. At the end the twins started getting fussy, so I got them out of the stroller and jiggled them for a bit while Ted was buying our items. Together, they’re up to 36 or 37 pounds now, so I can’t hold them at the same time for a long time anymore. Our friend was in the next lane over, and Hazel running back and forth to talk with him and then us, so it was a bit of a family circus. Hopefully we were more entertaining than irritating to other customers. At least the babies weren’t crying. (It’s all about keeping standards and expectations helpfully low, right?)
When we got back it was far too late for other tasks, so we’ll have to punt those onto tomorrow’s list. But tomorrow we’ll have childcare all day, and that helps immensely.
At the end of the evening a friend came over who’s going to do some house/cat/plant sitting for us. We were explaining x, y, and z to her, and Hazel kept wanting to jump in and tell her what to do. It was obvious at times that she didn’t actually have anything in mind, was in fact standing there trying to think of something, and just wanted to participate in giving instructions. I found myself telling her to be quiet too much, and it occurred to me that, just like this morning, we need to find ways for Hazel to join the conversation so she doesn’t feel as much that she has to butt in. And of course, sometimes it’s just time for adult talk, and there’s no place for her. And she’ll have to learn that too. But Hazel’s not someone easily suppressed, so I think we need to get more creative in giving her more channels for her energy, communication, activity, engagement.
My grandmother apparently used to say to her kids when sufficiently exasperated, “I hope that when you grow up you have six just like you!” I won’t have six, but I certainly think Hazel has inherited certain characteristics (desire to get her way, willingness to argue, very verbal and articulate, perception, stubbornness) from me (and possibly from other people in my family and/or Ted’s) such that I have an interesting mirror in the person of my daughter. And Emily and Joanna can’t talk yet. It’ll be even more interesting when they can…