Car rides with my children can be challenging. (Car rides with my children plus one more, all three in pinching/scratching distance across the back seat, qualify as instant birth control. I finally figured out why minivans are so popular: it’s not that you can’t fit three in the back of a regular car, it’s that you need to allow for buffer zones.)
But on a normal day, Monkey is in his booster seat on one side, and Mabel is in her carseat on the other, and they get along quite nicely, comparitively speaking, and oh dear, all the orange chocolate chips seem to have ended up at the bottom of this bag of cookies and I just keep pulling them out somewhat in the manner of Little Jack Horner…
Sorry, where was I? Yes, all is hunky dory in the back seat except for one tiny problem. Monkey is at a lovely stage where he’s interested in how things work and what things do (no change there) and also old enough to understand more complicated explanations. I love nothing more than the chance to explain things to people, and he loves nothing more than having me or his Dad take the time to explain something to him that he’s genuinely interested in. But. Mabel does not appreciate this. As soon as we pick Monkey up from school, or set off for the supermarket or whatever, and Monkey asks some interesting question like why we get dizzy when we turn around, or where we get food from, Mabel yells. To drown us out. Because I’m talking to him and she’s not involved.
Monkey: Mummy, are houses stronger than metal?
Me: Well, it depends on the metal. And on the part of the house you’re talking about. Some metals are stronger than others, you know?
Monkey: Ohhhh. What’s a really —-
Monkey: What’s a —
Me: Iron, for instance —
Me: Iron is a strong —
Monkey: What’s a strong —
Me: Yes, Mabel. Monkey and I were just having a conversation, you know. You could listen too.
Me: Yes, Mabel. Is there something you want to say to me?
Mabel: Ummmm… [has to come up with some spurious subject quickly; falls back on old faithful] Why did the chicken cross the road?
On Saturday we were all in the car, and Monkey was telling us his idea about why we might get dizzy: “Because the air is pressing down on us, from the Earth turning around, and that makes us dizzy.”
I responded, “That’s a very interesting hypothesis, but I’m not sure it’s quite right. I have another idea…”
Mabel, tired of this science, interjected: “Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah.”
“Mabel, Monkey was just telling us his hypothesis about why we get dizzy. Do you have something you want to tell us?”
“Waaaaaaahhhhhh. [Sobs] I have a hi-pop-epis…. “