Last Saturday was a beautiful day. The sky was a crisp blue, it wasn't too hot or too cold with maybe a touch of fall in the air. But it wasn't a perfect day just because of the weather, we didn't have anything on our schedule. It was a completely FREE Saturday afternoon. This is a rarity in our house. But this fall the boys decided not to play a sport...no baseball and no flag football. Shannon's soccer games are usually on Sunday and Molly's activities are during the week. It has been years since we have had free Saturdays. We slept in, no alarms were set, no "on the field at 8:00 in the morning," it was great. Molly woke up and jumped into bed with me. I was on my phone and came across Katy Perry's video Roar. I was reading a teacher blog about how she was using the lyrics in a language arts lesson in her class. Well, Molly snuggled in and we watched it a couple of times and then Molly looked at me and said, "Let's go to the zoo!"
Why not! After a little bit of planning, we decided that it was too late to go to the Washington Zoo. If you're not there first thing in the morning, it's difficult to find a spot to park. So we decided to go to the Catoctin Zoo in Maryland on route 15. I haven't been there in years. I think the last time was when Shannon and Timmy were toddlers. It's not the Washington Zoo, but it was good enough for an unplanned, wide-open, do what you want Saturday afternoon.
Chris and Timmy went golfing for the afternoon, Shannon had homework that she wanted and needed to get done, so that left me with Molly and Ryan. Now with four kids, there are six different combinations that you can have when you only have two kids at a time. It is by far, the Ryan-Molly combination that is the most stressful. I have a few theories as to why this is, but on this beautiful day on our way to the zoo, they were warned to be good and kind to one another. I anticipated bickering, I anticipated hearing, "Mooooommmm, he's touching me!!!!" I anticipated this fun trip turning sour. But something else happened. They got along. They genuinely were nice and good and kind to one another. Ryan and Molly don't have too many opportunities for it to be just the two of them without Shannon or Timmy being around. I found that without them around, Ryan seemed younger, he seemed to play down to Molly instead of playing up to Timmy and Shannon. Instead of picking on her, Ryan and Molly fed the fish together, and looked at the animals together, and rode a camel together. It was perfect.
Who are these children standing side by side talking to one another and not arguing?
It was a complete coincidence that Molly was named "Zebra of the Week" aka star student this week. We got a couple of shots of her with zebras that we were able to use on her poster.
So now let's fast forward a week to the next Saturday. Again, beautiful, no sports to play, wide-open day. What should we do? Molly once again said, "Can we go to the park today? We haven't gone to the park in a long time." Now this was true. She is my youngest. I have spent many hours at the park over the past fifteen years, but it has definitely started to dwindle.
Why not? So Chris, Ryan, Molly, and I took a ride to the park. Molly made a comment that she remembered everything being bigger. Oh, sweetie, you're the one getting bigger.
Chris, Ryan, and Molly started a game of hide and seek and a funny thing happened. A little boy that looked about five years old asked if he could play. Chris said, "Sure." Then another little boy and then another joined in the game. Soon there were about five little ones with Chris helping him to find Molly and Ryan. It was the funniest thing. He was like the Pied Piper.
When the hide and seek game finally ended, it was time to swing on the swings. "Push me dad!" Molly called. She knows how to swing, but it's just so much more fun when your dad pushes you.
Look how much fun this kid is having!
...And look how much fun Ryan and Molly are having together!
And after Chris sat down to take a break, it was Ryan's turn to push Molly...and there was no fighting or bickering or screaming, "That's too high!"
I think I figured out the key to these two getting along.
It's not separating them...
It's giving them more one on one time with each other without the older two. Sometimes the younger ones want to grow up too fast. They want to catch-up to their older siblings. But if I give these younger ones time with each other, their true ages seem to come out. Hmmm, what shall we do next weekend? Maybe a bike ride, why not?