Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Musical Chairs

Saturday, I had four extra children at my house, for a total of six. They ranged in age from my youngest, 2 1/2, to twin 7-year olds. We started and ended the day with the slip-n-slide. Or, as they called it, the "slippy slidey."

There were definite rules - one child at a time; you had to get off as soon as your turn was finished; and you had to immediately - no stopping, no dawdling - go to the end of the line. Oh, and if you had an accessory, like a kickboard, or a hippity-hoppity (those big bouncing balls with a handle), you had to pass it to the next person in line. This went fine in the early part of the day, when everyone was fresh. By 5:00, however, when we returned to the slip-n-slide, it was a different story.

Hazel, in particular, had a hard time. Being the youngest, she felt the lack of a nap the most, and was the least able to follow the rules. "Hazel, get off the slide!" they'd yell, or "Hazel, go to the end of the line, no cutting!" She'd smile or frown or pout and continue to wreak whatever havoc she was wreaking until I would stand up to help - then she'd scuttle off of the slide and back to the line, promising to follow the rules.

Finally, I had a brainstorm.

We have 10 small children's chairs from The Container Store - bright, hot pink and orange - that we purchased for a birthday party last year. Those things, at $5.99 each, were a great investment (thanks, Mom!).

I lined up five of them along the house, under the eaves. Each child sat in one, in the order they had determind was appropriate, with the child whose turn was next standing in the allotted spot. She took her turn, I yelled out, "Ok everyone, move up!" and they all stood up and advanced to the next seat, while the wet child ran back and took the last chair.

What was great was that since it went so fast, this was just enough activity to keep them occupied in between turns so that no one lost their focus. Slide, run, yell, stand, scoot, sit, stand, slide, run, yell, stand, scoot, sit - it worked like dream.

We did this for another half hour or so, until my husband got home and my shift ended.

I wish I'd been able to capture it on film - but my part was critical to the success of the entire endeavor. Without me shouting - "OK, next, move over, stand up, sit down!" it would all fall to pieces.

Maybe we'll be able to stage a re-enactment one day.


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