Wednesday, January 22, 2014

When Teamwork Goes Bad

Today was one of those days when I realized something about having two children who are eighteen months apart.

They make quite a team.

The not-quite-two year old has the curiosity and wild abandon with nothing in mind but the glorious act of destruction.

The three and a half year old has the height and skill to make it happen.

The not-quite-two year old could not accomplish this endeavor on their own.

The three and a half year old knows better than to try.

But together, working as a team, they can make it happen.

Adam's gone this week (which makes the second consecutive week, if you're counting, as I am). We're normally out in the mornings, but today it was snowy and cold, we were dealing with delayed openings, so we skipped our art playgroup to stay home in our jammies.

The girls had a good start to their morning. They slept a little later than usual, which was nice for me. By the time I got them out of bed, I'd managed to drink my coffee and watch Dance Moms (don't judge). They sat at the kitchen table with their new favorite activity (coloring with markers) while I made breakfast. After breakfast we made two new batches of play doh.

That's when things sort of fell apart. And then they got worse.

Yesterday, we got the news that our wonderful, traditional, low key, perfect preschool that was giving us exactly the environment we wanted, is making a major change. I'll talk more about why this upset me so much later, but basically, if the changes actually happen, we won't be there next fall, or at all for Reagan.

Therefore I spent most of yesterday afternoon (after venting, complaining, fishing for other reactions) calling schools for information. This morning they started calling me back.

The girls quickly lost interest in the play doh while I talked to preschool directors about hours and curriculum and academic intensity (yes, this is academic intensity for four year olds). I put on a show for them, but they lost interest in that as well. They darted upstairs to play.

As I usually do when they play in their bedrooms, I turned on the monitors so I could have an idea of what was going on. I heard lots of running, lots of giggling, running between the two bedrooms. I could hear that they were playing, I could hear that no one was crying, but beyond that, it's not always easy to tell what was going on.

I finished my phone calls in about ten minutes (incredibly disheartened) and thought that I'd try to steal a bathroom break with no interference, since they were still playing nicely. This took about 5 minutes.

I was marveling at my luck and pulled the dishwasher open to start the empty/refill process and realized that I wasn't hearing a peep over the monitors. This was weird. There's a monitor in each bedroom, and with the exception of the bathroom, those are the only rooms that are "open". The master bedroom is closed and gated, and Adam's office is closed when he's not in there. Those, along with the dining room, are the "grown up" rooms in the house where we keep things we don't want destroyed. I can leave my flat iron on the master bathroom counter. Adam can leave important documents in his printer. We can leave fragile vases in the dining room. We are vigilant about keeping the girls out of these rooms. They are occasionally allowed in with one of us, but never alone.

I went to investigate.

Bathroom - reeked of lotion and was covered in TP with the sink still running. Not a good sign. And no little girls.

No girls in either bedroom.

Then I heard giggling from behind the closed office door, and with great trepidation, opened it.

And found the power of teamwork.

Reagan was allegedly banging on the office door (she doesn't like when she's denied access). Madison, who knows that they are not allowed in there, opened it for her, because "Reagan wanted to play". When I opened the door Madison was quick to tell me that "Reagan did it".

They had trashed his office. Opened a package of cough drops, opened the individual cough drops, and left them on the floor. Dumped out his change bowl. Emptied his bookshelf. Opened a cartridge of printer ink. Scattered his piles of paper.

Adam is a bit of a car nut, and in his office, he has three glass display cases filled with model cars. Vintage replicas of cars that won major races, cars I don't understand the significance of, but cars that are expensive. And not toys.

Reagan "wanted to play cars". So Madison opened the case (dragging in a chair from her room). These expensive models were spread throughout the room.

And two of them were broken.

When I walked in, Madison immediately knew this was bad. Like I said, she knows better.

But she also knows that "Reagan is a baby" and often gets away without punishment because she doesn't know better. Notice that Reagan is stopped from doing these things, but she's learning. A sharp NO is usually enough to teach her.

To Reagan, this was an exciting adventure she'd probably been dying to try. Banging on the office door, the land of forbidden fun, has been a long dream of hers. But with that room closed or occupied 100% of the time, she never gets to try.

Reagan used Madison as her all access pass. Madison opened the door and let her in.

Madison used Reagan as her scapegoat. It was Reagan's idea, she just went along for the ride.

Reagan had the desire.

Madison had the ability.

And Daddy was not happy with the news. Turns out one of the cars they destroyed (the only one they really destroyed) was a car that was worth a lot more than I like to think we spend on model cars. It was also one of the first real collector's items he purchased fifteen years ago.

Madison lost the two toys that were the most valuable to her, (since they destroyed a toy that was important to Daddy) along with many tears that Mommy and Daddy were very mad. Reagan escaped most "real" punishment, since she doesn't really get that yet. But a mad mommy who put her in her room - with the door closed - during the office clean up, was enough where she doesn't seem to want back in any time soon.

Mommy lost the ability to trust two little girls to play upstairs while she works in the kitchen.

Because teamwork, when you're talking about two toddlers, is a scary, scary thing.
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