Saturday, November 29, 2008

Young family playing like a winning team

This morning our young friends Praiz' and Candace and their beautifully well behaved children left us to drive back home to Tallahassee. If all is going well, they should be home soon.

We had them in the house for three nights to celebrate Thanksgiving with us. It was restful and fun. What made it most fun was the even temperaments and good manners of their four children.

All the way down to the baby, Jefiah, never crying - never, in three days, crying even once - I have never had one child in my house who was less work or bother, let alone four.

Last night I caught a glimpse of why that might be so. Praiz' and I had tickets to see The Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra's Tricksters program. The children - Praiz's four kids, our Leyla, and we had accumulated our family friend Claire Eiler, as well - had been together a long time and were starting to get a little testy.

The fort they had built in a basement storage room had collapsed, and in the aftermath of the collapse, there was something of a void in their play. I observed the rumblings of bickering. I warned the mothers to check in on their babies while we were at the symphony.

Praiz' must have heard me give this warning, because when I looked for him to hit the road, I found him in the basement. I came upon him orchestrating all six children into a cleanup "team" with the task of tearing down the remnants of the fort.

One kid said to the other that they were "cleaning up," but Praiz' would hear none of it - "we're playing on a team," he said.

When all the large pieces of fort detritus had been formed into piles, sweepup was all that was left. Rather than assign tasks, which no doubt would have inspired shirking and arguments over why someone else didn't have to work as hard, he asked for "volunteers" to hold the scooper.

They all volunteered. They had to form a line - each taking a turn to hold the scooper for the "team" and clean up the basement before we left for the symphony.

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