Tuesday 30 December 2014

The Theory of Relativity

(Alternate title:  Pride and Guilt, all rolled into one.  As usual.)             

The kidlets have had some good adventures over the holidays.  Possibly most exciting, they’ve been going on individual sleepovers at Grandma and Grandpa’s house – meaning one child gets prime one-on-one time with my parents, and our house gets 33% more sanity for one night and one day!

Ailsa was the first to be invited.  Being a stereotypical Middle Child,* Mom and Dad thought that she would appreciate the individual attention and the prestige of being First.  Surprising everyone, she declined.  She thought it would be more fun to go there with Vaughn and Tamsin.  Even when Grandma called her and invited her especially, she simply said, “No,” then handed the phone to Vaughn, so he could go instead.  He packed his backpack, and, with his beloved, bedraggled blankie in tow, we drove three kids out to the country for the annual tree-decorating… then left with just two little girls.  Snif.  Who knows what Vaughn got up to (video games and a movie, apparently), but I was able to sleep in till 8:12 (I knew he was the early bird!!!) the next morning, and take the girls swimming (“kimming,” as Tamsin calls it).  It was almost relaxing.**  Vaughn returned just before bedtime, full of smiles and stories, and Ailsa was suddenly eager to go.

But!  Because she had declined, she was bumped to the end of the line.  Actually, she was bumped for more practical reasons – with just two …um….functional kids, and me at work, Chris could have a relatively easier day.  So little Tamsin Toonamint the Two-Year-Old was invited.  She helped me pack her bag, and to the sound of sobs from her brother and sister (who suddenly decided that they love her, and wailing, thrust stuffed kitties into her arms), she marched out the door with my parents, proud and not even caring that we were all sad to see her go, the wretched little ingrate.  I called just after her bedtime to see if my poor little girl had cried too much for me.  “Not at all,” Mom reported.  Humph.  The next morning, at work, she had the nerve to call me and coach Tamsin to happily say, “Good morning Mommy!”, and then Mom told me that she had slept in till 8:30.  Hubba-whaaa?  She also sent some photos of Tamsin not crying for her mommy:  Tamsin smiling in front of the tree, Tamsin helping with the dishes, Tamsin sweeping the floor, Tamsin helping Grandpa light the woodstove… waitaminute… she’s never that helpful at home…

But the whole point of this story is the relatively easy part.  I worked (a nice, quiet day at the office, where I was appallingly productive, could actually think things through, and even cleaned off my desk a little), then was picked up by Chris and the kids to go look at the Christmas lights downtown and eat some delicious Indian food.  It was still light out at 4:15, so we decided to have an early dinner at the East India Company.  The decor is stunning, the buffet plentiful, the food spicy-yet-delicious…and it’s in the Entertainment book, too.  Vaughn and Ailsa were perfect little dinner companions – they got to drink ice water out of actual wine glasses! – and not only did they love to explore the carved walls, sculptures, and wall hangings, but they also couldn’t stop unconsciously shimmying to the traditional music, which was awesome.  Right before we left, a big group came in, and one of the kids, who was about 10, with almost black hair, and the same long eyelashes and dark eyes that Vaughn has, looked around and said something quietly about the decorations.  His uncle said, loud enough for us to hear, “It’s not weird.  It’s your culture.”  Hilarious.

We then ran down Elgin street, all the way to Confederation Park, to play tag among the brightly-lit trees.  We then crossed the street to City Hall, to watch the lights around the Rink of Dreams change colour and the skaters skate, then walked behind the Courthouse, climbed on the monuments, and had a boys-against-girls race back to the car.  It was SO cold.  And also, the girls won.

It was such a fun, active, pleasant night…well, relatively, anyway.  I couldn’t quash the feeling that we were somehow betraying Tamsin by having such a nice time together, that we almost certainly wouldn’t have had without a considerable amount of hassle:  a snowsuit, a stroller, a high chair…  We drove home, hoping to get there before her triumphant return; when she arrived five minutes later, Miss Tamsin strolled in all cool as a cucumber, and not nearly as excited to see us as we were to see her.  Turns out that when they got close to the city, she started asking in panicked tones, “Ganma house?  Ganpa house?” – I guess she had more fun there than she does at home.  Humph again.

Ailsa’s turn is next, in a week or two.  Whatever will can we do without her?



*  I don’t believe in birth order theory, but if I did, Ailsa fits the description exactly.

**  My own theory of relativity involves activities that used to be impossible to manage with one or two children that are now laughingly easy because we have the perspective of life with three kids.***  Note that Einstein, who also (probably) had three kids, never had to take them all swimming at the same time, because one was put up for adoption he was smart.   

***  Which is impossible, even if you're a genius.

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