Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Debagged at the final hour

A quiet day.

But reader, do you find, in the aftermath of bloody battle, a subdued state is not unusual? In the wake of war, there is a quiet time for mending discord.

It is so here. The sibling rivals remain busy, each to their own, carefully watching their borders, looking to their territorial gains, and seeking minor opportunity to define their powers, maybe in more moral composure than before.

No-one wants another war before each has secured the advantage from the last.

It is a good time for me to strike.

Being a shifty sort of character with a secret admiration for Richard III, I must catch this state, and take advantage. I can even tell myself, as a home educating parent, that it is my moral duty to be crafty in how I go about wrestling something that resembles an education.

First, I lure all parties to my interests with bait. Chocolate-sprinkled vanilla cake and chocolate milkshake for breakfast.

With the siblings all arranged about the table, slurping and watching each other, I spring on them a paragraph about Picasso with ten edits to make.

This establishes something to the day, like an expectation of study. From this point I have the advantage. Out comes a guessing game of chemical symbols, quickly followed - when it becomes unstable thanks to an issue with who discovered Magnesium - by the BBC iPlayer. Here we are all bonded with the amusing diversion of people in the eighteenth century electrocuting each other, for fun.

In time, Shark slopes off to read, Squirrel goes about her quiet affairs (mashing up copies of the South China Morning Post for purpose-who-knows-what), and Tiger takes to her computer with determined tapping of her mouse.

I have the upper hand, yet not once have I used veiled threat. This is good. From this point, mastery of the entire day could be mine, fashioned to my educational goals, so long as I am not caught celebrating victory too early, and I remain diffident in the afternoon discussions about spellings for baboon, tortoise and using.

By tea-time, the first real and potentially threatening interactions of the day are taking place with the game of Owl and Mouse.*

Yet even here, I win! I twist daddy Dig's conference call to my advantage. I say the owls must be quiet, or the people in South Africa will hear only frenzied and blood-curdling screams and this would destroy daddy's reputation as builder of global harmony. A pizza reward would be off the agenda.

At last I can bring a proper gravitas to complete our quiet, studious day with an edited reading of our shared book, Wild Swans.

Perhaps then it is my mistake, to explain how skillful and superior manoeuvring by more intelligent and knowing peoples can easily take advantage of war; how discord can be so easily exploited to pick off factions and rebuild new orders; how those new orders are always more suited to the interests of the new, more powerful overlord.

But I am almost assured now of an easy coast towards a quiet bedtime. I merely need to keep one eye on the perils of the evening. Experience tells me, after a long and study-filled day, these tired hours can be the point when resentments erupt.

I can afford to relax with at least one gin and tonic, as the children entertain themselves, stitching and stuffing vampire bats which they secure in the window grills, chatting easily together on the mastery of their craft. The solidarity of the triplets returns. Their ability to reflect on their separate states and their united powers, their demonstration of quiet bond and mutual support, is all a sight to see.

Six knowing eyes then turn in unity to scrutinise me. They require only a small amount more black fabric which they have eye-spied me wearing in the form of an old pair of flapping John Rocha trousers.

Reader, I can say no more. Except I have learned again that education is power, and it is perilous.

Given the terms unanimously laid before me, and the solidarity shown by the opposition, I considered it totally in my interests to yield.

* The Owl and Mouse game is the one where there is a Mummy owl and a Daddy owl and they must work together to catch the mouse. If they are successful, they can beat the shit out of it before dragging it home for supper. This game is usually popular with two of the triplets at any one time. I have never known it to have a good ending.


Nora said...

You do live a very perilous life. I hope the next explosion is a long time off. Like maybe in another year or so. I'll keep my fingers crossed for you and Dig too, of course.

kelly said...

Hmm. The sum of our day has been watching 'The Count of Monte Cristo' and then giggling like idiots because the three year old says Panolean instead of Napolean.