This week I asked the third little traveller if he could walk the fourth to his classroom each morning. I think the third traveller misunderstood me and thought I was asking for him to donate a kidney as he was, well, not impressed with the idea.
"But he walks sooooooo slowly" followed by "you don't understaaaaaaaand - I'll never get time to play with my friends" seemed to be the top two grievances with the new morning request. I delved in to my personal parenting strategies and sound parenting ideas and thought about the best way to handle things.
I bribed him.
We made a deal, a week of walking his little brother to class and there would be an extra treat at the weekly visit to the corner store. He was allowed to have an extra lolly.
As I dusted off a little piece of parenting guilt from my sleeve, I thought about why this particular bribe was making me feel a little more dirty than some of my others. It wasn't just the bribing bit, but more the fact that one child couldn't even manage to walk the other to his door. I want the little travelers to care about each other. I understand that they're not going to always like each other, but was I seriously bribing one child to walk next to another?
The end of the week arrived and there was much excitement on the way to the corner store. The third little traveller ran through his list of wants and needs and everyone trotted in to the store together to do their usual five minute perusal of the shelves, before picking the exact same thing they picked last week. As I loaded the water in to the back of the car, the fourth little traveller walked out of the store with a look of devastation on his face - something terrible had happened to the third little traveller.
"He's crying Mummy, he put his drink on the counter and it tipped on the floor and its all over the ground"
The third little traveller came out of the store with tears running down his flushed cheeks. He was in a flux of embarrassment and disappointment. His sisters followed behind him.
"The man said you could have another one" said the first little traveller.
"I'm too embarrassed" his head was in his hands as she stroked the top of his head.
"I'll go and get it for you!" said the second little traveller as she ran back in to the store.
I watched them all fuss over him. When the second little traveller emerged from the store with the new drink he smiled through his tears, "thank you". She smiled back at him.
I watched their faces as they moved instantly from that moment, on to the topic of who was going to the park, and who got first dibs not the computer tomorrow.
They care about each other. They might not always like each other, but that's okay.