So, we're on day 6 of the vacation with four kids under the age of 8. The complex social hierarchy and negotiations involved between children of this age are staggering. The next time there is a summit meeting of world leaders I'm sending this little troop of kids in to straighten things out.
They each come with their own special skill set- their own superpower, if you will. Finn, as the youngest, has the Power of Instant Tears. He is not yet concerned with his budding ego, so he'll stomp his feet and say "But I'm only fwee!" and cry at the drop of a hat. J, the oldest cousin, is In Charge. The younger three look to him, due to his advanced years, for the rules of engagement. Greta, as the only girl, has the Power of Transformation. She can be, by turns, tough as nails, giggly, weepy, shy, coy or crafty. The boys are usually confounded at the speed in which she can flip the switch, and she uses their brief disorientation to her advantage. W, who is 5, is a combination of The Incredible Hulk and Elastic Man. The Elastic Hulk? Just picture what you could do with this combination of skills, and you pretty much get the idea.
The adults, by turns, are doing their best to practice the Power of Invisibility. The trick is not to be the only adult in the room when snacks are needed, or an argument erupts. When all four of the above mentioned powers are used on one unsuspecting or unprepared adult, any logic, control or wisdom he or she may have possessed are rendered useless, so the only tools left are bribery and pleading. It is not pretty.
Unless, of course, you are one of the Grandparents. They have the Power of Impermeability (otherwise known as I've-seen-it-all) and try as they might, the childrens' powers are mostly useless on them.
I love the way they are all teaching each other. J loves having Finn around, and he is very nurturing with him. I found them huddled together at the beach yesterday, J giving Finn a brief lesson on marine life. Being around three boys has toughened Greta up a bit. I never know how she will react to the ocean, and at the beach yesterday there were some small swells, and the beach had crabs and other animals that usually frighten her. She charged right into the water, following her cousins, with her fist in the air saying, "I'm not afraid of anything!"
Even the teasing they give each other helps build character. The older three were teasing Finn about being the 'smallest'. He screwed up his face and looked down at his legs for a spell. Then he looked up and said "Guys, guess what? My legs are even longer den dey were yesterday!"
W and Greta are quite a pair, with their big smiles and competitive spirits. They were having races yesterday, and it was a draw as to who was fastest. They flopped down on the grass, exhausted, and W turned to Greta and said "you're pretty fast for a girl". "Yeah, I know," she beamed, "wanna go again?"