I offered this gem of parenting advice on a forum of recent when asked for advice to give to new parents. Bare in mind all the good stuff like following your instincts etc etc had already been said so I added the one piece of advice I wish I could take from myself!
Supervise with your ears. Beware silence.
It is fore front in my mind this week as I have failed dismally at supervising with my ears this past week or so. It was always one of my strong points at work but for some reason it is slipping! My girls seem to have taken full advantage of this chink in my armor and have gotten up to some great adventures in total silence!
Last Monday –
I was cooking dinner and hadn’t noticed that they’d both wandered into the study. I suddenly realised it was VERY quiet and went to investigate. I found Izzy about to draw with red texta all over her sisters face after having had a snack on it already (see photo from last entry).
Last Tuesday –
the girls were having a lovely time sitting at their table behind me playing playdough while I did some designing and chatted to Dee on MSN. Here I was telling Dee how finally having twins is paying off as they play so well together and I am not constantly being asked to join in and eay their play dough birthday cake. I know plenty of parents of toddlers who demand that they play with them all the time, this is one luxury of having a permanent play mate. It was almost time to go to playgroup so I turned around to inform them of this joyous news and suddenly realised how quiet it had gotten… and why.
They had gotten the face paint out of the draw, managed to open the box and container it was in and had face painted themselves… entirely. Face, hair, clothes, hands, feet. As well as a good artistic impression on the floor and couch!
Last Friday –
I had had a late night the night before and was laying around in bed not waning to get up while the girls were happily watching ABC kids and eating their cereal. I must have dozed off because I woke up to a ‘donk!’ ‘donk!’ noise. The sound of a ball being bounced on the wood floors… or so I thought. Had I supervised with my ears better I would have realised that ball throwing includes lots of giggling and arguing about who gets the ball etc etc and in this case all I could hear was the periodic ‘donk!’ ‘donk!’. I totally dismissed it and it took me a while longer before I dragged myself out of bed to discover that the ‘donk donk!’ had not been the sound of balls bouncing but of apples… not bouncing!
The girls had pulled down the bag of about ten apples, had taken random bites out of several of them then thrown them around the living room!
Last Sunday –
I was preoccupied with reading my buddhism for mothers book (ironic really!) at the kitchen table and failed to notice the silence until it was too late.
Two rather large rats sat on my kitchen floor taking rat like nibbles out of a giant loaf of bread as they passed it between them.
And finally this morning –
Lying in bed chatting to DH (again not wanting to get up, too cold!) when I suddenly wonder why it is very quiet out in the living room… looked at the clock and thought ‘ah playschool is on, that explains it’. But a few minutes later there was a very loud rustling noise and lots of giggles so I went to investigate.
The girls had emptied one of the kitchen draws. The one with the foil in it, now all over the kitchen floor. The one with the glad wrap, which they had managed to rip off a million little bits off. The one with the small snap locked bags that now decorated my living room. And the one with the non stick baking paper that they had unrolled and run around the living room with like a streamer!
On all of these occasions I couldn’t really be cross with the girls. I didn’t think they could reach the textas but obviously they can! I didn’t think they could get the face paints out of the packet but obviously they could! I didn’t think they could reach the apple bag, let alone rip it open, wrong again! I was sure that all the bread was pushed well back on the bench… but no. And I thought they weren’t interested in my kitchen cupboards anymore so no need for the gate to be closed. Not to mention the fact that during all of these moments I was preoccupied with my own needs and not even supervising with my ears!
Oh brain why have you stopped paying attention to my ears!