Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Through a shape sorter darkly

A question recurs when I am in the presence of another mum of two and we experience a miracle: our babies drift off and our toddlers drop protocol and commence peaceful, bite-free playing for a vast stretch of several minutes (eternity, in two-year-old terms).

There is a pause. Then the question."Why didn't anybody warn me about two?"

Subsequent kids grow families in an exponential, not linear fashion. One is just one. But two is an army (and under-fives don't adhere to the Geneva Conventions). No one gets a break. There aren't enough hands, nor enough hours in the day. There aren't complete conversations, or even complete thought--

Which is why the question remains unanswered. Toddlers notice their respective social secretaries relaxing and  resume protocol. Kid A bites Kid B. Kid B smacks Kid A over the head with the COVETED TOY OF THE MOMENT (think the conch shell from 'Lord of the Flies'). Both babies go off like car alarms. Parenting resumes and the question is forgotten.

Shapeshifter fingerprints.
Perhaps no one warned me for the same reason that veteran mums to never tell expectant mums about the horrors of labour. Or maybe no one remembered to warn me due to a sort of Mama Stockholm Syndrome--eventually we learn to identify with our captors to survive. I suspect this because I feel myself slowly becoming one with the two-kid army. I am forgetting the horrors of the early months with two under-threes, just as a promised I wouldn't.

Recently I watched Ana repeatedly bash the round peg into the square hole of her shape sorter. In that moment I really identified with her. Most of my days feel like that. But there must be light at the end of this shape sorter tunnel, albeit faint, because I have time to sit here and write this.

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