Tuesday, 16 January 2007

A momentous day

What an achievement. We have made and posted birthday cards in the same day.

Let me explain the ground rules about any activity in a household of triplets. The first rule is there must be something for everyone to do. The second rule is that all the tasks must be of equal importance.

This isn't easy. Washing broccoli. This has to be split into a multi-part activity: several before chopping the heads off, and some more after. Other people sometimes do not appreciate this complexity. Two years ago me and the kids went to Dorset to live in a tent with Oo and son, and the triplets were keen to help. There clearly wasn't much for them to do in the five hours it took Oo to put up the tent, with me hovering about offering to hit things with a mallet. There wasn't much to do about the beds either, since two blow-up mattresses hadn't occupied anyone that long. The sleeping bags had already been put in their holders and pulled out again, so we'd exhausted that. It had to be cooking the food. And there was broccoli.

Oo said she would go and wash the broccoli. 'Stop!' I cried. 'Let Squirrel hold the broccoli on the way to the tap. Let Shark turn on the tap. Then Squirrel passes the broccoli to Tiger, who will hold the broccoli under the running water. Then Tiger will pass the broccoli to Shark who can also wash the broccoli. Then Shark passes the broccoli to Squirrel who can wash the broccoli too. Then Tiger can turn the tap off. Let Shark carry the broccoli back. But she must pass it to Tiger to place on the table, where it's going to be chopped. Now, let me tell you about how to chop off the heads...' I could see Oo's eyes had glazed over. But life with triplets is like that.

So making and posting birthday cards in the same day is a wonderful achievement. Think of the paper that has to be fetched, the felt-tips you might pick up and take for granted, the glue that everyone wants to pour, the spatulas to carry, the glittery sticky-on things you might keep in a drawer. They all have to be brought out, and everyone wants to do it. Don't forget the envelopes, the stamps, and the journeys to and from the post box.

The journeys have to be planned, meticulously, and in advance of doing anything. So everything takes three times the hours. For example, we have to walk through doors, and that's usually not fair, because Squirrel was first last time. Mostly because she's always leaving this family, but anyway, it must be fair. We debate who will open the door on the way out, who will be first to walk through the door, who will close the door, who gets to choose the way to the post office, and who gets to walk first down the pavement and hold a hand to cross the road.

It may seem laborious, and you're probably thinking 'Just go to the Post Office!' but think how you would cope if you said that to three little girls, all of whom want to be first. There'd be a shocked silence. Then the screaming, pushing, running about and crying would start, as everyone tried to be first at everything. Soon enough the weapons would come out. A cuddly puffin might look cute, but you know about it when you get a battering with it. Then you'd think, 'Thank goodness it's the puffin and not the lollypop sticks they've sharpened into spears'. Without the planning and organisation, you're looking at two hours to wind up and calm down, and foolishly you might have shouted the threat of 'Put the Puffin down or You don't go to the Post Office at all!'

Now, making and posting the birthday cards in the same day. What an achievement.

Happy Birthday Luna!

No comments: