Thanks to Jamie's obsession with electronic media, I've probably had rather fewer problems than the average mother of two with having to deal with them both wanting my attention at once, but tonight was a doozy. As Jamie finished off his spellings and started thinking of sentences for the week's words (which he agreed to do right off after getting in! No fighting over it!), Katie decided she was going to do spellings for homework as well, and insisted on paper and pencil, while I was still sitting with Jamie to help him with his sentences. That was just par for the course; a typical minor conflict, the kind you deal with a dozen times before breakfast on a routine basis. But then she insisted I should stay with her and help her, while Jamie wanted me to come and watch his Legend of Zelda game that he has for his new Wii, and I had both of them yelling at me simultaneously wanting my attention.
I wanted to do both. I wanted to be able to pause each child in turn so that I could have my fill of spending time with the other one. I wanted to see what funny made-up words Katie was coming up with to spell (she thought of 'flinge', which is apparently a thing covered in hair with one wheel, and 'elden', the definition of which we didn't actually establish), and to seize the chance to sneak in a bit of educational play by showing her how letters could go together to make words. I wanted to acknowledge that Jamie was trying to reach out to me for company and share something he loved doing with another person and that this is a big thing for him, and I wanted to watch his game, which looked a sight more interesting than the Sonic and Mario ones he usually plays. Oh, and I wanted to get dinner into the oven on time, and clean out the lunchboxes so Barry wouldn't be stuck with that job later, and it would have been nice if I'd had time to make the lunches for tomorrow so that I wouldn't be stuck with that job later, although that last clearly wasn't even going to make it onto the list of options.
But I did what I could. I went back and forth between them for the first few minutes, and then picked Katie up and hauled her into the living room so that I could have some sort of contact with both at once (she promptly lost interest in making up words to spell, which was a pity, but at least I was managing to talk to them both about what they were doing). I nipped into the kitchen for a few minutes when I could. And, later on, when Jamie was in the bath after dinner and Katie was sitting on the toilet and wanted to play a guessing game with me, I managed to get Jamie involved in that as well ("Jamie, Katie's thinking of something that's rectangular and has two legs and is attached to the wall." "Well… is it a radiator?" Blimey, so it was, I'd been stymied by that one – good job I'd had his input!) and, for those few minutes, we all managed to play together successfully.