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And what is life?

toilet paper and WC

Illustration: Vyacheslav Shilov

Conclusions

Hope Silver (www.hopesilver.ru)

– Life is a gift, – said the wrapping paper.

– Life is imagination, – pronounced the writing paper, confidently.

– Life is a rainbow! – exclaimed the colored paper.

– Life is current events, – reported the newspaper.

– Life is s[…], – concluded the toilet paper, gloomily.

(SILVER, Hope / Nadezhda Serebrennikova. Curious Things. Berkeley – CA-USA, 2015).

 

Different points of view, different perceptions, different conclusions. Different roles in life. Hope prevails, however. Nothing, no matter how determinist it seems to be, is definitive.

My daughter offered a new end to the story and to the melancholic toilet paper. Run out of other stuff, she filled with pieces of toilet paper the cute toys she was crocheting.

The lesson applies to the writing paper and the colored one, and is useful to the wrapping paper e the newspaper, after the present has been opened and the news has been read:

Life – with art – is fulfillment.

Crocheted unicorn and donut

An unicorn and a donut made of wool by my little girl

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You can also see:

The origami angel

From daughter to mother

This post in Portuguese: E a vida, o que é?

 

The little strategist

“Parents trying to elicit good behavior from children must become amateur strategists (the children are the pros).”

(DIXIT, Avinash K. & NALEBUFF, Barry J. “Thinking strategically”.)

The phrase above is in the preface of a technical book about Game Theory, which intends to teach the principles of strategy reasoning. The authors are wise when they are able to find, in children, the reasoning that we end losing and having to re-learn after being adults. Mainly when we become parents.

One day I went back home and received from my husband a so-so “good evening”. I soon asked what was going on, and he said to me, annoyed:

“I bought a new videogame. I spent a lot of time choosing. I was sure it would be a complete success among the kids, until I inserted the disc inside the device. Only 15 minutes past, and they were already screaming and fighting in the room. I didn’t preach, I didn’t do anything: I just turned off the device and prohibited them from playing for one week.”

In the blink of an eye, I mapped the “atmosphere” which had been installed. The sadness of a father who brings a present hoping for union and seeing the opposite. Adding to my delusion of… Gee, why can’t they play nice? In the room, the little three all blue. The oldest one, writing in a notebook, a kind of diary, feeling so wronged. The fight had begun because he was – under the pretext of teaching the youngest brother how to play – taking off the controller from his hand all the time; the youngest didn’t want to accept “interferences” and then TOOF!! beat the controller on his brother’s head. My daughter was even more frustrated, because she hadn’t taken part in the confusion and was being like so. And the youngest was letting the tears drop with no sound.

My husband said again:

“I didn’t do anything. I just turned off the game.”

This kind of silent action from the parents weighs more than a scolding, you know? It’s when the children realize that they provoked something more serious. I tried to pacify and also give to Caesar what was Caesar’s. With the father’s “OK”, I released the girl from the prohibition for one week. I praised the oldest boy because he just wanted to help, but also asked for patience. To the youngest son, I said that nothing could justify hurting anybody, much less if the person was his brother, even worse because he was trying to teach him. I saw he regretted it, but I couldn’t leave it be, even for the sake of justice.

Later, I saw that he was still shedding tears and, that time, he was dedicating himself to make a drawing (since he didn’t know how to write).

See the drawing:

crying stick figure

When I saw it, I couldn’t resist; I squeezed him in my arms and covered him with kisses. I covered all three with kisses. I asked the little boy to apologize to both his brother and sister, and his father too, what he did with a wet face, and also promised that it wouldn’t happen again (uh-huh).

Then, he brought me another drawing:

smiling stick figure

Comparing the two drawings, it’s possible to notice the spirit of each one; the first of them made in brown crayon, sad, and the second in orange, happy.

Some days later, the girl was playing in the computer, and the little boy began to annoy her, wanting to play too.

Aaaaaaah, the usual confusion…

“Spending my beauty” and all of the daily artifices, typical of a career in Law, to be a judge, a juror, a lawyer and a conciliator, I said to him he wasn’t right and must wait until she left.

It didn’t take 15 seconds, and the boy came to me with one more drawing of a crying-stick-figure. But, that time, it didn’t correspond to the funny and smart smile of who had drawn…

Three years old. Professional strategist.

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You can also see:

The tooth fairy

School lunch

Are your kids as mine?

This post in Portuguese: O pequeno estrategista

Things that only those who have three (or more) kids know

Only those who have three (or more) kids…

… brush, at least, 32 (yours) + 20 + 20 + 20 (92!) teeth, three times a day;

… cut 80 nails every week;

… hold the hands of two kids to cross the street and ask one of them to hold the hand of the third kid – something that they never accept;

… have to take two taxicabs to carry the whole family;

… buy weekly, at the supermarket, what the others buy monthly;

… realize, as unviable, any carpooling – unless both you and your neighbor have a minibus;

… need two sofas for watching TV;

… in travels, must book two rooms at the hotel, after the youngest kid is 3. And thank God when the hotel has combined rooms;

… have to plan a big logistic operation when traveling with them. And, if it is a trip only for mom and dad, have to leave a big logistic operation for the heroes who will stay with the kids;

… ought to manage three homeworks, three schedules, three exams each bimester, three school supplies, three report cards. And still have to attend three parent teacher meetings at the school. However, also deserve a little discount on the school payments of the youngest kid;

… realize that they are the masters of confusion, in endless combinations: the oldest one x the youngest ones; the youngest one x the oldest ones; the oldest one + the youngest one x the middle one; boys x girls; all x all…

…earn three cute gifts, made by them, and watch three shows for Mother’s Day every year (and cry in all of them);

… find out that 3 is the minimum ideal number for any play: hide-and-seek, tag, games, etc!

… find out that, now, they are the majority at home…

… hear: “Are you a mother of three? You are…” (complete the phrase):

(   ) in high spirit

(   ) encouraged

(   ) busy

(   ) determined

(   ) inconsequent

(   ) a warrior

(   ) mature

(   ) lucky

(   ) a ninja

(   ) admirable

(   ) happy

(   ) crazy

(   ) all of the above

And still there are those who ask: “When does the fourth kid come????”

The truth is: people are wrong when they think of applying economies of scale techniques when the matter is children. It’s impossible. Kids need (and we do, too) individual real time. Chronological time.

People are wrong when they think of a mere multiplication by three. I believe that we have to raise it to the third power:

  • Challenges cubed;
  • Responsibilities cubed;
  • Opportunities for growth cubed;
  • Love cubed – this is really good!!!

drawing with a father, a mother and three children

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You can also see:

Are your kids as mine?

Is your baby as mine?

School Lunch

It was so cute when they… yet I miss…

This post in Portuguese: Coisas que só quem tem três filhos (ou mais) sabe o que são

School Lunch

jack and the beanstalk

Len Ebert / Picturebook

I was picking my three children up at school. Then, they started having the following conversation, on the back seat of the car:

1. “When I grow up, I wanna be a restaurant.”

2. “You cannot be a restaurant. A restaurant is not a living thing. Living things are people, animals, plants…”

1. “Ok, then I wanna be a tree.”

2. “You look like a bean, that’s it!”

1. “So, I’m gonna grow up to the sky!”

3. “The bean plant cannot reach the sky.”

1. “Yes, it does! The bean plant of Jack and the Beanstalk did!”

3. “It’s a made-up story by the Europeans. They like that kind of tale.”

2. “Things like giant kingdoms don’t exist. The sky is something sacred, Mommy told me.”

1. “You mean, did Jack of the Beanstalk meet God?”

And me driving the car and thinking to myself: what did they put in these kids’ food at school????

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You can also see:

Are your kids as mine?

The Tooth Fairy

It was so cute when they…yet I miss…

This post in Portuguese: Merenda

It was so cute when they… yet I miss…

It was so cute when they…

… yet I miss…

… started grabbing their little pillows, saying good night and going to bed by themselves… … seeing them with “combed” squeezed eyes until sleeping in my arms.
… learned how to take a bath by themselves… …wrapping them with a towel, all perfumed and fresh.
… learned how to read… … when they would invent the stories only by looking the images.
… started to wake up and play, waiting for us to get up… … when they would go tiptoeing to call us in our bedroom.
… were promoted to the advanced swimming class… … when they did the baby swimming class and we would go with them in the pool.
… started using the first little underclothes… … (A LOT!!!) the diapers when they sprinkle the whole bathroom except the toilet (boys), or when we are out and they ask to poop, and the public WC is the dreaded mess of the eeew of the yuck.

You can also see:

Are your kids as mine?

Is your baby as mine?

This post in Portuguese: Achei lindo quando… mas sinto falta de…

The World’s best play

Do you remember when you un-learned to play? And now, as a parent with children, what to do? This post is about that.

I can consider myself a lucky person because I played a lot. Not only with typical “girl things”, like dolls, role-playing house or school, but also riding a bike, playing soccer, marbles and all kind of games: hide-and-seek, tag, cops and robbers, capture-the-flag, dodgeball and so on.

When I was home, I would create “movies” with dolls. My brothers would start playing and suddenly there they were, hypnotized, watching me playing. Sometimes, the stories took days, with many “chapters”, in enchanted kingdoms, lost forests, parallel worlds or the Mushroom Family’s quotidian.

brazilian toy happy world

When I was 15, I already had a boyfriend. Although I still kept playing with dolls. I would promote Suzi (the Brazilian version of Barbie) fashion contests, those were very competitive among brothers and neighbors. Hilarious recordings with special sound effects (sea waves using the out of air TV; horse trotting on shoe boxes). Or theater plays with cousins. I meant rest for the mothers, mesmerizing all kids, for hours. People used to say: “how good she is with children!”

brazilian doll susi

When I would go to my cousin’s home, who was 1 year older than me, I’d notice she would tidy up the doll house with all furniture, but after that she wouldn’t be in the mood for playing. Later, it happened to me: I loved to organize the scenarios, the characters, but the “movies” didn’t flow anymore.

Time went by. My children were born. I have even been trying to recreate the old plays, but it was in vain. I struggled to find where and when I lost my original spontaneity and enthusiasm. Perhaps it’s because now the stories have been happening in reality: my real home, my profession, my family. I wasn’t “good with children”. Actually, I WAS a child. Now, I’ve been playing being a grown-up, and the act of fantasizing lost its fun a little.

I found out other things. If I want to play with my kids, I choose toy blocks, Lego or wood building bricks, because of my sense of organization. Or table games like domino or memory, to enjoy together and not to only guide the play.

There’s a play, however, which is invincible in my preference: hair-dresser. I divide hair locks equally among the interested kids, spread dozens of hair elastic bands, clips and ribbons, combs and hair brushes and let them invent the coiffure they want. Justice be made, this idea wasn’t mine. They love it. Me too. I deal with a pull here, a stuck ribbon there, but I keep quiet, just enjoying the pampering, sometimes I even have a nap.

It’s also useful during boring-waiting-situations, like at the airport or the doctor’s office. I become a big toy and, even without the ribbons, they spend hours combing, curling, braiding and separating the locks, entertained. I even saw children from other families wanting to play, too.

You can call me a non-imaginative, lazy person, who is misleading my innocent children. I propose a challenge, though. Just try it. Afterwards, those who don’t like those rapid little fingers massaging your head and combing your hair, cast the first hair brush! hahaha

Marusia smiling

Creation by my little hair-stylists!

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You can also see:

The Tooth Fairy

Only mothers are happy – Marusia speaks

This post in Portuguese: A brincadeira mais gostosa do mundo

A short and bald guy – Marusia speaks

You had never imagined that the greatest love of your life would be a short and bald guy.” I didn’t like this wordplay. It’s not because I don’t have a “sense of humor”. I just think the ad is not funny.

I am not talking about “politically correct” things, that are, by the way, hypocrisy or, at least, a bore, to me. I’m talking about the perpetuating of some prejudices only to not “miss an opportunity to joke”.

To avoid somebody saying I’m grumpy, I’m going to transcribe a tweet I saw, also about babies and baldness – that’s really good:

Isabelly (5 years old), with her vast and curly hair,  observed the photos taken when she was a baby, virtually bald, and shoot: “Mom, was I born man?”

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You can also see:

Love is…

This post in Portuguese: Baixinho e careca – Marusia fala