I’ve had an epiphany.
Furthermore, at the risk of appearing conceited, I have decided I am a genius.
That’s not the epiphany, but merely an acknowledgement of my smarts for having noticed the thing which is the epiphany.
We arrived at the resort late yesterday, and one of the first things we noticed as we walked into the foyer was the gigantic play gym for the kids.
“Get in there,” I told my kids, happy to have such a marvelous distraction while I gave thought to what we were going to feed them. Then I spotted a roadblock. “Wait!” I said to them. “The sign says you need to have socks on.”
Naturally, none did.
“But, Daaa-aaad,” whined several of my little people in unison.
“I’m sorry, guys,” I explained, “but without socks you’re not allowed in.”
That’s the abbreviated dialogue. The actual dialogue went on for a couple of minutes, but it was basically me and the kids repeating the same sentences over and over in a loop.
Finally I had them all facing in the one direction to leave…
…which was when I noticed the mother sitting near the entrance looking rather guilty. She’d been listening, I knew, because while I argued with my kids she’d been giving me those ‘we’ve all been there’ look that parents give each other when kids are being difficult. But now it was definitely guilt I was seeing.
I looked at the other kids who were already playing on the jungle gym.
Not one of them had socks on!
I reread the sign. Then I happily decided I too would ignore it.
“Okay, then,” I said to the kids. “Shoes off and on you go.”
Three kids raced into the entrance and disappeared. The remaining two stood staring at the sign on the wall and frowning.
“What are you two waiting for?” I asked Miss7 and Miss10.
“The sign says we need socks,” said Miss7.
“I know,” I said. “But we’re ignoring it.”
“But that’s the rule,” added Miss10. “The rule is we need socks. We can’t go on.”
“It’s clearly an old sign,” I told her, “which doesn’t know about the new rule, which is that you just need to remove your shoes.”
“But it’s illegal!”
“You can go on.”
“But the sign says!”
Again, this is a conversation which went on for way too long for me to transcribe the whole thing here, but suffice to say it was very repetitive. Eventually, I took a new tack.
“You can go on and play,” I said, “or you can sit with me and wait for the others to finish having fun.”
No prize for guessing what they decided to do at this point. Although I have to say, as they stepped over the threshold into the play gym, it was like they expected the fun police to swoop in at any moment.
Which was when, as I sat there watching them race barefooted and anarchy-like through the different levels, it occurred to me I’d just made the Holy Grail of discoveries.
This is my epiphany:
If you want to get kids to obey the rules print them onto an A4 sheet of paper, laminate them and stick them on a wall. Suddenly, as if by magic, it’s the law.
There will be books, talk shows and royalty cheques. And a 40% chance of success, which is way better than my current success rate.
Did I mention I’m a genius? Seriously, if this doesn’t get me honorary membership to Mensa, I don’t know what will.
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“Raising a family on little more than laughs.”