One of my Secrets of Happier Parenting, discovered over years of refereeing sibling arguments, is that being with one kid, solo, is an entirely different experience than being with n children, where n>1. I am more relaxed. The kids are more pleasant. They do play well at times, which is a joy to watch, but there is more of a sustained satisfactory experience in one-on-one time.
Today was one of those rare days where I managed to get time with all four. Three were nice. One less so. The 5-year-old had the day off from school, so I took her out to lunch at what we call "the train diner" (Ruby's). She was so excited about her mac and cheese. Then we went to CVS together to pick up prescriptions and I made an impulse buy of an Elsa doll that was on clearance. She was over the moon.
I got the 9-year-old in the car, solo, coming back from his swim practice. He was talkative about life, which was good. Actually, now that I think about it, he came into my office for a while in the morning too and we chatted. [He got the full overnight at the zoo this weekend, so he had 16 hours of Mommy time then].
I took the 7-year-old out to dinner at a Japanese restaurant. He likes edamame, and I want to encourage the eating of anything other than chicken nuggets. He got a strawberry bubble soda, and we chatted for a bit before he demanded to see my phone to watch Dan TDM videos (I didn't hand it over until we were paying the check -- I told him he needed to be a good date!)
As for the 2-year-old, well, this was the less fun one-on-one time. He woke up, inexplicably, at 1:45 a.m. This used to be a more frequent thing, but over the last 3 months it's become mercifully less frequent. He proceeded to stay up until 4:15 a.m. I kept returning him to his bed, and trying to ignore him, but even if I ignored him, I couldn't sleep with him pounding on the door and yelling "Mommy!" Today I resorted to much propaganda. Every time we chatted: "Where do we stay when it's dark?" "In my crib." "How long does [his name] sleep?" "ALL NIGHT LONG." "Yes! Let's say it again!" Here's hoping he goes until it's light out.
Photo: Sashimi dinner. The 7-year-old ate white rice.