Ever tried catching a chicken?
You start out with the direct approach; the walk up arms outstretched expecting to catch it but, as you’re nearing it sprints off veering at funky angles and under the nearest bush. You try the creeping approach; the no eye-contact, shimmy up sideways, pounce and catch it unawares. That doesn’t work either. You resort to bribery. You know you shouldn’t, but shaking the chicken feed is the only thing that makes it come running.
It’s the same with my boys. Try rounding them up to clean their face, change their clothes or put their shoes on when they are in a playful mood and it’s like herding chickens. Mostly they are fine, it’s normally when you need to get somewhere or head to the car that it happens. I swear they time it.
I went to the supermarket for supplies today, a simple task you may think, but no, with twin pre-schoolers it can be a mission. Surprisingly they were fairly well behaved in the store. We had a few words down the chocolate aisle (to be expected) and I managed to stay clear of the toy section completely (result!). It was on the way back to the car, arms breaking under the weight of 5 flimsy shopping bags, that they decided to play up. The car was simply not on their agenda. “Head to the car please” I started off calm in the hope they would listen. A second later I stepped it up, “Get back here!”, I shouted as I picked up the pace, the shopping in one bag now starting to split – typical, the one with the wine! “Boys – CAR NOW!” I yelled as they span off in different directions giggling and knowing full well that I was starting to get pissed off.
I was nearing the car. Dominik was playing hide and seek with Harvey and squatting behind a 4×4. A couple emerged from said 4×4 and started staring at me struggling to round up my duo. They got out of their Jeep and walked towards the store with their well-behaved, immaculately dressed youngster holding their hand. They gave me a ‘you’re a terrible parent’ look. Typical. Judgers – like their kid doesn’t ever play up or fart!
“There’ll be no ice-cream unless you head to the car – NOW!”. Finally, I got a reaction. Both popped their heads up and came to heel at the side of me. I had shaken the chicken feed and it had worked.
Why oh why do twins run off in different directions?
It’s a fact. Twins do suddenly get on one and head in opposite directions, normally at the most inopportune of moments. It’s not a problem if you are shopping with a partner or friend, at least you have someone else to help round them up. But if you’re alone it’s stressful. Which kid do you sprint after first? How do you decide? With kids of different ages you can try and reason with the eldest. With twins, you can’t.
I watched an episode of Super Nanny once where she was dealing with a young kid that ran off and ignored his mother. I do rate her tactics mostly but this “you need to round them up, sit them down and discuss it” approach simply goes out the window when faced with twins – two of the same age and development that simply bounce off one another. It’s two against one and they know it. There is no time to be textbook. I know, I know, we should all stick to this positive parenting – no threats just choices, but in that moment of frustration when all you want them to do is behave, the threat of no ice-cream or chocolate is the only thing that seems to work.
Conclusions; Shopping with twins can be a nightmare. Don’t judge when you see a parent struggling. Ice-cream and chocolate rock and bribery and threats do have their place when all else fails.