Monday, 23 September 2013

The one you really can't win

Did you know the average four-year-old girl asks 390 questions a day?

On a conservative estimate that means (assuming that M and L ask fewer than S and A, being respectively younger and older, and admitting that while L's questions are generally more complicated, - "Mummy, if all clouds are made of water, why don't all clouds make rain?" - M's are generally still variations on the theme of "What Mummy doin'?" and therefore easier to handle*) I am probably answering, on a non-school day (and every day for the eight months prior to that when I had two non-school-attending four-year-old girls in the house), an average of, I reckon, somewhere north of 1000 questions a day.

Is it any wonder I spend a lot of the time thinking "I can't win".?

Generally, of course, it works out ok.  But I realised yesterday there's one time you can't, ever, win with children.  One question you can't ever get right.

It's this.

When do we leave?

There you are, having a lovely time at the swimming pool, everyone thoroughly enjoying themselves (apart from the parents, because clearly having four small children of various levels of swimming incompetence is never going to be a relaxing experience.  Can't remember the last time I actually swam in a swimming pool) but it's lunchtime, or it will be by the time you've negotiated your way out, alternately frozen and scalded in the shower, caught athlete's foot and man-handled four still mostly damp children back into their clothes, so you say "Right everyone, time to get out".

But they don't want to.  So whinging ensues. Even despite the promise of fish and chips on the beach.  And, as everyone knows, whinging leads to irritation, which leads to more whinging, which leads to crossness, which leads inexorably back to whinging...

Yes, this was yesterday.  In Scotland
So the next time, mere hours later - after the fish and chips - playing on the beach you take the alternate route.  You say, "Ah, they're having a lovely time.  We haven't got anywhere else to go. We'll let them play a while longer".

Until they get overtired and have had too much....

See what I mean?  You can't win.

There must be a sweet spot.  A glimpse of a passing micro moment of a millisecond, when they and you are simultaneously ready to leave.  But I've never found it, or worked out how to identify it.

I can't imagine anyone else has, either.

*and not many of them are as amusing as these (can't say I've ever been asked for my opinion on air) - which inspired me to go and look up the stat (which I'd remembered but not blogged about before.  Thanks to Ms Carrot Crush for that.



  1. "Leave while you're ahead" was always my motto. But then, how do you know when you're ahead? And is it worth hanging on to see if you might be ahead for just a bit longer?

    1. Quite. If they're enjoying themselves it always seems such a shame to break it up...

  2. Ah but at the beach there is no losing. Whinging happens regardless of how long they're there or not there. Leave too early and they'll whinge about that, too late and well they're too tired. BUT in that sweet spot - that moment when they're all playing happily in the sand - THAT dear friend, is when you are winning. Relax, enjoy a coffee and dig your toes in the sand. The answer is: "It doesn't matter, I'm just going to enjoy it right now." (and then deal with the aftermath later)

    I really, really miss the beach.

    1. I love the beach - it's only 40 mins away here and we don't go enough.

      A little colder than the ones you were used to though I imagine.

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