I have a love-hate relationship with school holidays, which is reflected in my erratic demeanour and multiple-personality-style parenting between late December and February.
I wake up a cheek-stroking, sweet-nothing-murmuring earth mother – killing the Mum Game with my patience and enthusiasm. But because my children are in training for the day that arguing becomes an Olympic sport, the warm and fuzzy quickly recedes, and in it’s place appears the other mum. The frazzled and huffy one, who mutters barely audible profanities before saying things out loud like ‘Are you really?.. Surely you’re not starting …‘ and then just the resigned ‘I can’t even….’
This week, with the holidays almost over, I thought I’d compile some of my favourite arguments from these school holidays. A shout-out, if you will, to the kids’ hard training over summer.
This is an oldie but a goodie. My kids have been in training for years!
If your lot are looking a bit bored and seem to have run out of things to do before school starts, they may want try a few classic arguments from my list.
1. Watch This
One of my favourite arguments these holidays is simply called ‘Watch This’. It’s convenient, can be performed anywhere, and is delightfully free.
Child 1: Watch this mummy!
Child 2: No mummy watch THIS!
Child 1: Mummy’s watching ME first. AREN’T YOU MUMMY?
Child 2: No she ISN’T you DUMMY she said she was going to watch ME FIRST
Child 1: MUMMMYYYYYYYYYYY!!! You always watch him! It’s not FAIR <dissolves into tears>
Child 2: <smirking> Mummy! Watch this!
2. Play Pick Up Sticks
The beauty of a game of pick up sticks is in the subjectivity. Who’s to say the red stick moved? How can it be proven?
(Note here I have outsourced the adult involvement to a more patient grandparent)
Unfortunately, you will need a parent or grandparent as a referee. One who has to watch every single stick being picked up, and adjudicate every single ‘Ah! You moved it!’ claim. Until you have no words…. Except for the silent faaarrrrk that escapes your lips as your soul leaves your body, and you finally expire from the mind-numbing tedium of it all.
3. Let’s go to the beach
There’s nothing like seaside air to get the arguing juices flowing. It usually starts before you even get there (because it’s odds on that if one wants to go to the beach, the other one would sooner die). And once you’ve argued your way out of the house and onto the sand, the opportunities for biffo abound!
They can kick sand on the other one’s towel (and then deny it ever happened), steal each other’s beach toys and splash the one who came to the beach but didn’t count on getting wet (it’s a free world after all).
Given practice, they’ll get so good they can argue who’s part of the beach the seagull just shat on, or who owns the water in the bucket. And when the arguments are exhausted and it’s time to pack up and leave, one will be ready and the other will want to stay. Another great day at the beach!
4. Mindful colouring.
Only the best arguers (mine) are so adept that they can turn mindful activities into full-blown arguments.
For example – what if they both want to colour with the same exact pencil at the same exact time? What if one is ever-so-subtly elbowing the other while colouring? Or one is humming annoyingly?
If this doesn’t do it for you, there’s always the classic ‘mine is better than yours / you’ve gone outside the lines’ takedown, to be pulled out at whim.
5. Go To a Cafe.
Cafe’s are just an argument waiting to happen. Starting with what they’re allowed to order, and who’s will be better, and while they’re waiting for it to come, kicking each other under the table, wresting the salt shaker out of each others hands, spilling it on the table and then sulking when you growl at them through gritted teeth about never going out for coffee again.
Here, Arlo models the classic cafe silent tantie, after an argument over sugar sachet container
6. Play a game of Monopoly
Ah Monopoly! The game that’s been bringing families to the brink of breakdown since early last century. Just roll the dice and pick your argument – or rather, roll the dice and accidentally knock all the houses and hotels off your opponent’s properties, and then have a barney about where they were and who’s fault it was.
And it’s long. Loooooong. That shit can last for days.
7. Take the Dog to the Park
Dogs are great to argue over because they can’t talk back. And they generally don’t give two hoots about what’s going down on the other end of the lead, as long as they’re being taken for a walk. My kids like to argue over who holds the lead, who’s turn it is to throw the ball, and who the dog loves best (the answer, of course, is ME).
8. Cooking with kids
Cooking with kids is calming, therapeutic, and a great way to develop their independence and self esteem. Unless, of course, there’s two of the little buggers, and they both need to stir the cake batter at the same time, and jostle each other off the stool while pulling hair and screeching ‘IT’S MY TURN!!!!’
9. Go in a lift
Let them sort out who gets to press the buttons. Just make sure you have the Five-O and paramedics on speed dial to be waiting at the next floor.
10. Go on a ferry trip
Take it from me – this is a good one.
Don’t take an ipad or let them play on your phone. And whatever you do, don’t take food or offer to buy them any on the boat. Just sit back in your plastic seat, with the rest of the (interestingly dressed, heavily tattooed) punters, and watch the show.
To illustrate, I took notes on our last Sorrento-Queenscliffe ferry crossing. The shorthand version looks something like this:
who boarded the ferry first -> who’s got the best seat -> who’s leaning on the other -> who farted -> who’s feet are the smelliest -> who’s chewing gum is tastier -> who’s thirstier -> who’s sitting on mummy’s lap -> who’s breath stinks -> who would go first in the massage chair if tightarse mummy had bothered to bring any coins -> who’s getting off the ferry first.
I’d like to say that although this didn’t happen in Australia and was definitely NOT me…. It’s not as far-fetched as it may first seem.
Happy arguing kids. You’re welcome 😉