This is my best friend, whom we'll call Asterisk. Nothing bonds people so much as going through major life events at the same time, and Asterisk and I met the week after we each had left our ex-husbands. We were like survivors of the same shipwreck who shared a lifeboat. It was great for all of us; my oldest and her youngest were one year apart - age three and four at the time. It really helped them to have a friend going through the same transition, and it normalized their life. I can't speak for her, but it really helped me to have someone going through the same emotions and divorce procedures at the same time as well.
We have celebrated each of our combined children's birthdays together, as well as every Christmas Eve since we met. We have babysat each other's kids, had sleepovers, and too many play dates to count.
But, and you knew there had to be a but in here, my kids hated her until last Thursday. They wouldn't admit to hating her, but it was perfectly clear to all of us that she was not their favorite person. Still, she is my sister-friend, and she kept coming over whether my kids liked it or not. They don't get a vote.
Asterisk is one of those moms who has rules and just assumes all children will obey them. Her rules are small and rational. She doesn't yell, and she doesn't make unreasonable demands. She has rules like no eating in the living room, not rules like children can be seen and not heard. Although she doesn't yell, she has some sort of Jedi mind trick where she tells the kids "no" about something, and they instantly obey. I have no freaking idea how she does it.
I have to admit that I have used her as a threat to get my kids to go to sleep on several occasions, which probably didn't help their relationship but worked beautifully at bedtime. She asked me to stop using her as a threat and I grudgingly did, but it didn't improve their relationship much.
We have had Asterisk accompany us on outings when she didn't have her kids to foster good memories and show she is fun. Didn't work.
She took my boys to buy me a birthday present. They love to shop, but it didn't make them love her.
She picked them up from school and bought them ice-cream. Didn't help.
Then, this past Thursday she stopped by unexpectedly and in one of those random and completely bizarre moments, she won their hearts forever.
Here's how it worked. She came in, and my kids hid from her under a blanket on the couch. She sat on them. They jumped on her. She let them. She is now one of their all-time favorite people.
"When is Asterisk coming over? Can she come over now? Can we jump on her again?"
She came over the next day with her sister for a night of hair-dying, nail painting, and other girly endeavors, but before we headed to the bathroom she lied face-down on my sofa and let them jump on her again. I have absolutely no idea why she was willing to let them do this, but she did, and they were ecstatic.
When we retired to the bathroom I sent the boys to jump on the futon across the hall in the guest bedroom.
Mama: Go jump on the futon so we can dye Asterisk's hair.
Big Pants: I don't want to jump on the futon.
Mama: The futon is nice to jump on.
Big Pants (glowering at me with complete displeasure): So is Asterisk!
We let them help with hair dying, gave them rubber gloves to blow up like balloons, and had a really nice night, but it was her willingness to be a trampoline/bouncy house that won their undying affection.
Not only do they love her, but now they worry about her welfare. Saturday I had the following conversation:
Tiny Pants: Why did you make Asterisk blond?
Mama: People do that sometimes when they want a different look.
Tiny Pants: But how can she see?
Tiny Pants: I'm worried she can't see cuz you made her blond. (blind)