I AM VERY fond of telling my boys there are four of them and only one of me. I may look like there is plenty of me to go round but I still only have one pair of hands, one set of ears and I can only move so fast.
In the mornings, for example, I make pancakes for the boy’s breakfast. They usually have one each and I make them one at a time. Even if I did possess two pans, I still can’t see myself taking both out of a morning. Oldest Boy gets his first. He’s always the hungriest. By the time I’m handing him his second, someone else is looking for their first.
“How come I’m not getting one?”
“You will. I only have two hands. Give me a chance, please.”
Smallest Boy likes to have “a person” present when he visits the bathroom. I’m not sure if he likes the company or lacks the confidence to go by his own self. Of which he is very capable. But sometimes the mess he makes due to leaving it to the last minute is not worth it, so I accompany him when he asks. It is when I am tending to him in the bathroom I hear,
“Where’s my dinner? I’m hungry!”
“I’ll be with you in a minute. Can’t you see I’m a bit busy? I only have two hands. Give me a chance, please.”
Bed time with kids probably plays out the same way in every household. There are pyjamas to be found, maybe a child needs a hand getting off a pair of jeans and pulling on a pyjama top. Then the toothbrushes need to be sorted. I try to give them all different colours – we use two types of toothpaste so anything that sorts out the who’s who of toothbrushes helps. I start brushing teeth.
“Where’s my water bottle? I can’t go to bed without my water bottle.”
“It’s on the counter top. Open your eyes.”
“They are open. And it’s not there. Where is it?”
“I only have two hands. Give me a chance!”
The boy’s favourite treat is a pile of jellies with a Malteser or two thrown in to mix it up. I divide them into little piles of four. I hand the nearest two kids their share.
“Hey! That’s not fair! How come I don’t get any?”
“You are getting some. I only have two hands. Can you wait a moment, please?”
I’m sitting down at the computer or having a quiet cup of tea. Smallest Boy comes up to me with his sock for a cuddle. I lift him up onto my knee and he snuggles in. We sit in quiet companionship. I sip my tea or type with one hand.
A short while later another of the boys wanders over and wraps his arm around my shoulder. I get a kiss on my cheek.
I put down my cup or stop typing and holding onto Smallest Boy with one hand I wrap my free one around his big brother to return the hug.
The three of us sit in quiet companionship.
I only have two hands but it looks like there is plenty of me to go round after all.