Lately we've been having a lot of trouble with patience around our home. The Small One can be an annoying pest, yes, everyone admits that. But The Large One has taken to snapping at her indiscriminately for everything she does or says. She's always had her own way of dealing with this but in the past few months it's graduated to a point where no one else in the room has any patience with the two of them either.


The Dormouse wakes up in the morning, stumbles into the room.

The Caterpillar: "Hi Siste..."

The Dormouse: *immediately snaps back* "I HEARD YOU ALREADY STOP TALKING TO ME!"



And suddenly the decibel level in the room has gone from Quiet Living Room to Jet Engine Up Close. And next thing you know, you're explaining to the alarm company that yes, your glass break sensor went off but they don't really need to send the police.

We've explained, talked, pleaded, begged, forced her to apologize, threatened to take away birthday party attendance privileges and even tried some behavioral modification techniques. I'm desperate to stop this behavior before The Caterpillar grows a few years older, realizes her sister is being an ass, and begins to hate her for it. And then The Dormouse will hate her right back in a cycle of pre-teen angst, never to be broken.

It probably goes without saying that this lack of patience, one sister for another, has also created a lack of patience on the part of two parents who are, frankly, sick of the bickering. Anyone who's ever been a parent knows that the worst part of this job we get ourselves into isn't the sleepless nights or the dirty diapers or concerns for their safety or even the constant worry that you're doing something wrong and that someone will come and undo all the good you just did. The worst thing about being a parent is that no matter how many times you ask, explain, coax, urge, beg or persuade them to do something, you can be damn sure you'll be having the exact same conversation tomorrow, if not five minutes from now.

Someone once said that the definition of crazy is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. That person was wrong. That's also the definition of having kids.

Digression: One of my brilliant ideas is to invent a device onto which you can record your lecture and then just play it back to children on a loop until it is assimilated like some kind of brainwashing technique in The Manchurian Candidate or A Clockwork Orange. But then I think that device is just called a 'Tape Recorder,' so I'm probably not going to make a million dollars off that one. I have other ideas too, but that one's probably the only one that won't incur the wrath of Child Protective Services. Stupid big brother government, getting all up in my business. /digression

I've tried to do some more structured activities that involve the three of us. Things like mate dulce which force us to work together and get along. But man, with the stress level and constant state of being overwhelmed by my work lately, it has been super hard to create that time for us. I'm hoping as summer comes or as I finally give up and quit my job and become a burden to my children, I'll be able to do a better job at that.

One of my other schemes to get the older one to be more patient with the younger one and vice versa when they start bickering has been to tell everyone to "put your patient hat on" and then make them mime putting on a hat. The KingofHearts and I do it too (we often need an extra dose of patience - would that it were that easy). The Caterpillar decides what type of hat she will be wearing and happily pantomimes putting that hat on whether it be a bonnet, a baseball cap or some sort of melted butter hat that you have to smooth over your entire head for several minutes. The Dormouse thought this was funny and went along with it at first but quickly decided that at the ripe old age of seven, she was too old for this and it was downright stupid. Now when we say, "put on your patient hat" and wait for her to actually do it, she rolls her eyes like a teenager who's been forced the indignation of having her parents drive her to school and drop her near the locker bay where the cool kids hang out.

"I don't want to," she'll whine.

But we make her do it anyway... because we're evil like that.

Then when she forgets and snaps at her sister, someone will say, "Uh oh! Your patient hat must have fallen off. Better put it back on!" And we wait while she sighs and is forced to mime putting the hat back on again. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. Often it's more a reminder to me than to anyone else.

Sometimes it's too easy to forget that you have an imaginary hat on and you need an actual hat on your head as a reminder. Like when you're making chocolate milkshakes together:

I wore one too. But it didn't help the fact that we were out of milk and had to use powdered milk that we had in our food storage.

Worst. Milkshakes. Ever.

Not such a bad day, though.