“He who knows when he can fight and when he cannot will be victorious.” – Sun Tzu, “The Art of War”
They broke the gate.
If it had happened any other day, it would just be the latest occurrence in a long line of broken household items.
But on this day — the first of summer vacation — it cannot be mistaken for anything else.
It was a message. An omen. A pre-emptive strike.
This wall — which has separated the relatively child-proofed safety of the living room from all the pointy, chemically, structurally treacherous remainder of the house — has fallen.
And along with it, any of my own self-delusions that this summer would be anything other than a three-month siege upon my blood pressure and sanity.
The fighting over toys and the TV, the midair launching of small human bodies from one piece of furniture to another, the noise — my goodness, the noise.
This just isn’t a couple hours a day anymore. It’s the whole day.
Miles’ second year of preschool was a godsend in many ways. He’s made new friends, become much more self-sufficient, learned to embrace the differences in different people and is quite the budding little artist.
It also kept this seeming bundle of furious energy focused, and if I am being honest, the simple fact that he has spent hours away from home each day has limited the amount of chaos visited upon my otherwise peaceful days.
Before now, the divide-and-conquer strategy has worked brilliantly. Owen, our little one, is a breeze without his big brother around getting him all riled him up in the morning. And by the time Miles got off the bus in the afternoon, Owen was solidly in the depths of his post-lunch nap. Weathering the 2-3 hours with both kids together at the end of the day wasn’t always an easy task but it was doable.
But divide and conquer is no longer a viable tactic. They’ve got me outnumbered. And they know it.
Today, perfect example.
I mean, it’s not like they couldn’t have escaped from the living room by just pushing the flimsy wooden divider down. Owen has done that with regularity of late. Still, it has at least served to slow him down until I can get there.
This time, though, they literally broke the thing in half — the first flaming arrow lodged in the castle wall.
Message sent; message received.
Of course, you know, this means war.
Michael Doyle is stay-at-home dad to Miles, 4, and Owen, 1. He’s married to features editor Abbey Doyle. He’s also a copy editor and designer at the Courier & Press.