Divided we stand

June 19,2009
Professor Mom
Aliki McElreath( )

Aliki is a writer and college English teacher. She lives in North Carolina with her husband, two children (ages seven and ten), a dog, a cat, a rabbit, and too many fish.

I don't know how you other parents of multiple children are faring with the kids at home this summer, but my kids are getting on each other's nerves. Their range of interests are ever widening as they both get older (a problem I think lots of parents with one child of each gender faces) and T. is getting less and less patient with her brother's controlling ways, and more and more physical when it comes to asserting her rights. They are also masters of the opposite game; the one where one child must have the complete opposite opinion from the other about something, no matter what they really, and truly think. We've given up presenting both kids with the same set of options about activities because one will always pick the exact opposite of what the other wants to do just...because. You know that cliche about duct-taping a line down the middle of a room in order to separate squabbling siblings? Sometimes it works. Divided Except we use our ottoman instead. The dog is uncharacteristically lying on L.'s side of the family room, and not T.'s side (the dog finds L. a tad too unpredictable for her tastes). T.'s side is filled with her stuffies and the block structures she likes to build for her Littlest Pet Shop creatures. L.'s side is filled with intricate Kapla block renditions of a futuristic Mars colony. I know we should be trying hard to encourage the kids to play together, to share, and to work things out, and we're working on ways to help them learn to tolerate each other better, we really are. But until then, sometimes you do have to divide to conquer--in the name of sanity, and sometimes safety, too. ************* I wanted to make these scrumptious-looking Yin-Yang Cookies in honor of the sheer yin-yangedness of my kids these days, but I honestly just couldn't bring myself to tackle a baking project that large given the mood I was in (I admit--I was a royal grump yesterday, and spent most of the afternoon fussing over the state of the house). Instead, T. and I made my sister E.'s always-pleasing, comforting, easy-as-pie signature One Egg Cake, in honor of my dad's visit this weekend. He arrived yesterday afternoon for a long weekend visit, just in time to witness a squabble of towering magnitude over who would get to use the last ten Kapla blocks. One Egg PerfectionE.'s One Egg Cake 1 egg (of course) 1 3/4 cup flour 1 1/4 cup sugar 1 tsp baking powder 1/3 tsp salt 1/3 cup butter (or margarine--butter makes this pound-cake-decadent) 1 cup milk or vanilla soy milk 1 tsp vanilla extract Mix everything into one big mixing bowl! Pour into greased cake pan. Bake at 350 for about 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Dust with cinnamon, or confectioner's sugar. Enjoy, preferably on YOUR side of the room. Happy weekend!