This is a post I originally posted on Bubblews, but I thought I may post it here now. (It's old on there - new here. Not sure what's happening to it from here on.)
After just writing a post about American cheese (and a cheesy post it was indeed); and after writing that post because I'd decided that two posts about eggs was more than enough posts about eggs; I've decided to take advantage of thinking about American cheese by writing one more post about it before closing the book on American cheese (as well as on eggs) - maybe. (Of course, I don't promise that there won't be more dairy-product posts, although right now I can't think of any.)
Back to the subject of American cheese and one of my kids when they were little...
First a little background story:
My eldest son was five when my younger son was born, and my two sons were eight and and three when their little sister was born. So, when my daughter was approaching her first birthday (or so) her brothers were nine and four. With that kind of age difference they got along quite well because most of the time the two boys found things to play that didn't require that kids be close in age. I didn't allow "rough-housing" between them because of their age difference, but they weren't were awfully "rough-house-y" little boys anyway. So, they'd generally play with things like building sets or other sit-down type activities. Once in awhile, though, as my husband and I were sitting in the dining room, we'd hear a little bit of an argument break out in the living room; or else sometimes we'd hear a little bit of a dispute going on in the family room downstairs.
I kind of established the thing that if I sensed an argument was brewing I'd tell them to separate. That's because I knew that one of two things would happen: Either they'd decide they'd been having such a great time playing that they'd work out the dispute and resume playing happily - or else they'd do what I suggested ("told them to do", actually), which was to separate. I figured that handling the situation this way gave them the chance to work out their dispute - or to separate and go do their own thing for awhile, or at least until they were ready to play together again. Neither my husband nor I were ones to yell at the children, and my husband had come to use my approach to any brewing arguments as well as I. We'd hear a problem starting to happen in a nearby part of the house, and we'd call (again, not yell), "Separate."
Most of the time one or both of us would hear the little bit of discussion about whether they wanted to separate or not, and about how they could resolve whatever the problem was; and it was a matter of only a few minutes before our sons would iron out the problem and resume happily playing. If they ever chose the option of actually separating and playing alone it was extremely, extremely, rare. The good thing about this approach was that the boys had worked out their minor squabble by themselves, had essentially reminded themselves of how much they liked playing together, and weren't left with any of the resentments that can happen when parents interfere with such things.
Now, as for the American-cheese element to this post....
One day I was pushing my almost-one-year-old little girl in the shopping cart, and she spotted the package of (what else?) American cheese and picked it up. (One of the reasons I bought that stuff in the first place was to let her have a snack at just such times as these.) I knew my toddler was holding the package of cheese, but I hadn't been in a hurry to give her a slice from it. I don't recall why, but I'm guessing she'd probably had some other snack and I didn't think it was a big emergency.
So, as I shopped I knew my little girl was fine, as she sat there in the baby seat, keeping herself busy. It didn't take long for me to notice that she wasn't just holding the package of cheese, though. She'd managed to start opening it. In an understanding (probably almost syrupy) voice, I said, "Oooooh, no.... " and then started to take the package of cheese away from her.
My tiny little girl, clearly angered by my move, looked straight up at my face and yelled (and in as mean a voice as she could come up with), "SEPARATE!!!!!!!!!!!!!" Obviously, she still had a few finishing touches to put on her understanding of the meaning of the word, "separate". Still, you know how they say that we parents so often hear our own words coming back to us? Well, THIS is exactly what THEY mean when they say that. :)
I don't know... It's an old story, and I'll admit to having told it a whole lot more often than once. Still, it makes me smile to think of how, even though my little daughter didn't quite know why, exactly, we would "announce" to her brothers, "Separate"; she had certainly figured out that when we used that word it wasn't because we were delighted with what was going on. :)