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When Your Village Is Plundered

October 28, 2013

Written by Marykate O’Malley, mother of three wonderful children, Gladwyne, PA

With my youngest being six, my crew is used to things remaining as they left them. They don’t have the experience of younger siblings sneaking into their rooms while at school, going through their personal belongings, and destroying Lego masterpieces they worked for hours on with one swift sweep of a pudgy hand.

And so when my children’s play village was destroyed by preschool bandits my oldest was devastated. I saw it as a learning opportunity and so after practicing active listening, “yes, I hear how upset you are”. “I can see that you are sad about the village being destroyed”. I then said “look this is hard and you can either be sad about it or see it as an opportunity!” I suggested, “Maybe you really wanted the hotel over here, and maybe Emily’s house would be better closer to Kate’s.” It didn’t work. She liked it exactly the way it was and now had to recreate it. My youngest? She was smiling, easy moving about the destroyed village going along with the adventure.

So I tried imagination – “what if you pretend your village was plundered?” I suggested the evil Gargamel came through and destroyed the peaceful town, and now they had to rebuild! A sullen face looked back at me. Unmoved. I threw out another idea – it was Sandy and all the Lego friends and princesses and Mario people all came together to make it even better and stronger! My youngest chirped, “yes, Sandy!” Finally the sullen face spoke, “Mom I had a dream last night that it took me 5 hours to rebuild this”. To which I replied, “That sounds more like a nightmare!” The flash of a smile and the sullen face emerged again.


The Hotel


So I offered “happiness is a choice”. Still sulking. Then I tried – “look on the bright side of life”. Sulking. My youngest is finding old toys once forgotten at the bottom of bins and baskets. My son, not present but IF he was probably would have been opportunistic – this was a chance to create the village he always dreamed of – he thinks big – big plans – my inventor and visionary. Youngest? Humming, happy, having no problem with the mass destruction and chaos about her. Cheerily stepping over toys and have no issues with the mess.


Fairy House – multicultural with every kind of fairy represented

I try perspective. A friend was over who had 2 younger siblings and I throw out a reality check – “you know some children with younger brothers and sisters have this happen every day!” I address friend, “Friend, did this ever happen to you?” And then the expected answer with a string of examples. Oldest child? Unmoved. She has a strong sense of right and wrong. In her mind, this goes against some core principle, some natural ordering of the universe. We cleaned the playroom and recreated the village. I was happy to have the chance to vacuum because I know better than to disturb the universe when it comes to their village set up. Everyone eventually moved on, but believe me, this isn’t the end of it. I will hear again from my oldest, “remember the time when”…

And herein lays birth order – oldest response, youngest response and my son who although not present also has his default operating system. It simply is what it is.

“The Castle” – order was restored in the peaceful village



Does anyone else see this? I find my crew is so lock step it almost bizarre. Oldest – rule follower, middle – imaginative, youngest – fun and charisma.



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  1. Cathy

      on October 29, 2013 1:37 pm

    Ha! Couldn’t help but smile at this! My oldest is a lot like me (also the oldest). My 2nd daughter has a much more laid back, go with the flow personality, and is always thinking outside of the box! Love them and their personalities! :)


  2. Anne Schenendorf

      on October 30, 2013 8:42 pm

    Greg and I howled laughing reading this- the parents of the toddler pillagers. The funniest thing was that as I read, they pillaged their beloved bedroom too. The exact discription of them was hysterical. Being a tad OCD myself I felt for my poor niece and her devastated village. I don’t know if it’s because I know how accurate it is, but this is sincerely the funniest thing I read in a long time. Btw, as a middle child, I am super laid back but neurotic about some things. Both my babies have shown these traits. 😉 xo


  3. Marykate

      on October 30, 2013 10:13 pm

    Anne – love it – so funny. I remember the “dumping” days! Its fun to dump things out – I totally get it! Especially when you are a boy and just shy of 3.
    Its like Sherman’s March Through Georgia. They like to leave a little token and rememberance. And Maggie is her mother’s daughter – poor thing – total neat freak.


  4. Marykate

      on October 30, 2013 10:14 pm

    Cathy me too – love the variety! They keep me laughing that is for sure!


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