Posts tagged ‘Children’

An Even Life

This past winter a blast of snow hit our neighborhood, canceling school for a few days. During that first day, the kids were playing outside and having fun together building snowmen. It was near twilight so I decided to add to the fun by bringing out some glow sticks. I grabbed a pack from our glow stick collection and saw that there were five in the pack. Without thinking I set one aside, and walked out with four. I tossed two to my son and then threw two to my daughter, who was on the far side of the yard. As I turned to walk back inside the house my daughter called out, “Wait, how many did you give him?”

She didn’t say “Thanks for the glow sticks, Dad!“, or “You’re the most awesome Dad in the whole world ever, Dad!” The first thing she needed to know is whether her brother got more glow sticks than she did. That’s why I live an Even Life.

2(Kid) + Item = Fight

Living an Even Life means being aware that the existence of a single item between two kids is fuel for conflict. It also extends to possession of territory and objects such as chairs, couch space, and Dad’s lap.

When it’s time to fire up the TV for an evening of videos there is one controller, one entertainment portal, one show to watch at a time. It all comes down to math in minutes and turns. If Kid1 wants to watch a show that lasts 44 minutes, Kid2 gets to watch a show that lasts 44 minutes OR 2 shows at 22 minutes each. To maintain this balance, the pause button will be pressed many times for juice breaks, potty breaks, and one kid’s purposeful attempts to disrupt the viewing enjoyment of the other.

You can imagine what happens when I ask where the kids would like to go for lunch. Two kids have to pick one restaurant. Immediate agreement is rare and there is a high probability that one kid will feel as though they lost. Both will feel this way when Dad ends the arguing by deciding on an option neither child wants. I do this thinking they will learn something. They don’t learn.

2(Kid) + (2(Item) + 1)) = Fight

If a collection of items can be reduced to an even amount plus one, the extra gets put away or tossed out altogether because I do not want to risk creating a fight over that remainder. Five granola bars? Two for your lunches and Dad gets the extra one. Seven stickers? Three each plus one to be put away until we acquire another sticker. If there is an uneven number of cookies, I serve enough among the three of us to create an equal amount on each plate and also leave an even number available for leftovers for them.

While preparing breakfast I pour two cups of juice to even amounts, moving the pitcher between the cups like a bartender. The kids watch me do this, eager to be the first to grab the cup they believe contains the most juice. To avoid juice spills from grabbing hands I task them with telling me when both cups are evenly filled.

How to Even It Out

All of this breaks down to the core equations of The Even Life:

When Kid1<>Kid2 the result is Fight
When Kid1 = Kid2 the result is Happy

You see this, my children? Math skills are sometimes a parent’s best weapon against injustice in your life. You thought learning math was pointless because you would never need it in the real world. How do you think I managed to find the exact center of your bedroom and split the area evenly? Trust me, I saw you looking around the space, trying to assess which side of the room was bigger. Only after my explaining the math to you did you finally feel satisfied that one of you wasn’t getting more space than the other.

I am holding on to the hope that they will grow out of this Even Life. Until then I will continue to search for a restaurant we can frequent that serves both pizza and sushi.

June 14, 2019 at 2:00 pm Leave a comment

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