I discovered a sanity-saving trick to parenting on Thursday.
The 15:21 train from Frankfurt to the small town where we live was late. Or, it left one minute early while we were still on the street car from my daughter’s day care. In any case, my very tired daughter and I could not wait for the next train and still get to the Kindergarten to pick my 4 year-old up before it closed at 4pm.
No, there was only one plan of attack. We’d take the more frequent train as far South as possible and take a taxi the rest of the way.
Except, the taxi stand was empty and stayed empty. We started walking South, searching for a taxi. It started to rain and, it became clear that we weren’t going to be on time. I didn’t have the kindergarten’s number with me, so I called my husband and had him call the kindergarten to tell them we were going to be late. While I was in the telephone box, two empty taxis sped by.
Finally, we hailed a taxi, loaded up the Christmas presents I’d managed to buy on my lunch break, folded up the stroller and started to speed home. My plan had been to take the cab to my car, parked at our station, load the presents into the trunk to preserve the surprise and drive myself to the kindergarten from there. Except there was no longer time for that. We had to go directly to the kindergarten, I would ask the driver to wait while I fetched the boy and then go to the station where we’d stow the presents from trunk to trunk without the boy seeing a thing.
Except, the driver wasn’t sure which exit to take from the Autobahn and pulled over to install and set his navigation system…leaving the meter running. By the time we got to the kindergarten 15 minutes late, I had just enough money to pay off the driver and take the bus home.
Naturally, when my poor, abandoned, little boy saw the shopping bags hanging off the handles of the stroller, he perked up immediately.
“What’s in there? Mummy, can I see that? Is it for the baby? Is it for Dad? Is it for me? Why can’t I see the surprise?”
We missed the bus by 4 minutes. It started raining harder. For the remaining 26 minutes, the exhausted baby cried and the little boy kept up a series of questions as to the contents of the bag containing his Christmas presents.
By the time we got home, they had refined their combined winge into a kind of off-key relentless melody.
“Why can’t I see it? I want to see what’s in there?” Wahwahwah. “Is it a toy in there?” Nyah, wah, wah…” and so on.
I was about to lose it when I spied something on the counter. It was just the break I needed. I sat the baby in her high chair and thought to myself, “Eleven and a half months is old enough, I am sure.”
I tore open the red package and handed each child a finger from a mini KitKat.
Do you know how long an eleven month-old will savour her first KitKat finger? Do you know how long a four year-old will spend nibbling away at a ration of chocolate when he knows there isn’t any more where that came from?
15 minutes. 15 absolutely silent minutes.
Who would have guessed that giving children candy could be such a temper-saving method of parenting. Did you know about this magnificent power?