It is a great truth that the solution to almost any behavioral problem with my children is to get them outside. Perhaps this is true for all children, but I only have experience with my own, obviously.
That's why when I see all-day rain in the forecast on the first day of a four-day holiday weekend, which is also a day that A. is out of town and therefore unable to provide any distraction, I quail a little inside.
You may recall I have some experience with this particular situation already.
All three boys woke up with all guns blazing this morning, and there was no such thing as cooperative play. It was ugly. After a lot of crying and yelling--not all of it by them--I looked at my watch and noted with some desperation that it was only 8:45 a.m.
So I pushed them all outside. Fortuitously, there was a break in the rain at that exact moment, so it was just a little misty. Not too cold, either. Totally bearable. They disappeared into the barn to get their bikes out and I went into the garden to check on progress and thin some radishes.
They ate the radishes, and then we went for a bike ride. Which really means Cubby and Charlie rode back and forth in front of the house while I pushed Jack along on his tiny bike. It rained most of the time, but as it wasn't 23 degrees below zero with snow and wind, we stayed out. Plus, the rain was keeping the bugs away, which was a great relief.
After about 45 minutes everyone was wet and a little cold, so we came back inside for a change of clothes and some creamy tea. Plus cheese crackers. Of course.
And that was the end of the respite. I had to confiscate all drawing materials due to fighting over said materials. I had to break up brawls over the Tinker Toy pieces. After some peanut butter bread, Jack went down for a nap and I let Cubby and Charlie draw again, which at least kept them quiet while Jack was sleeping.
Then he woke up. And they were all staring at me, ready to jump right back into their sibling rivalries at any second.
What I really wanted them to do was clean up the disgracefully chaotic downstairs living room, which functions as their playroom. But to entice them to do that, I needed an excuse that would require a clear floor space.
Could I build a fort down there? Not very easily--not enough furniture. Plus, forts always collapse when the three of them get to tussling in them, which they always do.
But then I remembered the tent. This was a children's tent that my parents had sent many months ago but that I had never set up before. Mostly because I knew once I set it up, they would never want me to take it down again.
But, you know, desperate times.
They picked up downstairs (hooray for manipulation!). I set up the tent (not without some difficulty--following assembly directions is not my forte) and they all dived into it immediately. Shortly there was a game in progress with Cubby going hunting, Charlie tending the fire, and Jack in charge of campsite protection. It will all go wrong eventually, as it always does, but for now?
P.S. Yeah. I was just about to hit "post" on this tale of triumphant distraction when I heard sounds of discord which ended in both Cubby and Charlie saying they hated each other and Cubby declaring he would never play with them again. It's definitely that kind of day.