Tuesday, March 21, 2006

March Misery

Can you remember what candy you got for Christmas at age five...but not what you ate for lunch yesterday? Do you know the exact marks on your second grade report card...but not one thing you accomplished yesterday? Do you lose hours at a time...having no idea what you did between 8 a.m. and 10 a.m. yesterday? Join the club.

To combat this short term memory loss, I sat down last night and tried to piece together the day.
It was dark, dreary, drizzly, bone-chilling, miserable. Slicker than snot on the streets. Fender-bender city. Not that I ever made it outside, or out of my pajamas, even, but that's how I imagine it was.

The boys wanted to watch two movies in the morning. Usually I don't let them watch T.V. for that long, but I had a ton of stuff to do. Only, I don't remember doing any of it. I assessed the damage in our house: dirty clothes, shedding dog, dirty dishes, clean dishes that I am too lazy to reach up high to put away, unmade beds, unopened mail, graham crackers mortared onto the high chair...but hopefully another agency is responsible for taking action on all this. Come to think of it, I made fart noises on the baby's belly the whole time. Well, that was productive.

And I also came up with an ingenious plan to teach Johnny and Richie how to count by tens: glueing 10, 20, 30 black-eyed peas to construction paper. We glue black-eyed peas to everything around here. I bought them to cook on New Year's Eve for good luck, but found out they take hours to cook. If I was going to dedicate that much time to making good things happen, I would sit down and come up with a reasonable career plan and affordable childcare and not just shrug and say, "I know. I'll be an at-home mom and a newspaper columnist."

Then we read the bible. My boys love the bible, with naked Adam and Eve, and bad old Cain, and good Noah and his ark. "Was Cain a bad guy?" Johnny, 5, asks. "Why did Adam and Eve didn't care if they were nakey?"

Throughout the day, the boys taunt me with questions like these that I can't possibly answer. Last night, Johnny asked, "Are leprechauns endangered? Why are there so many humans and not many leprechauns? Are they almost extinct? What is happening to them?"

Who do I look like? Jane Goodall? I have know idea what the status of leprechauns is. I'm a mother, not an anthropologist, though I am getting pretty good at observing strange human behavior. Like when I looked over at Johnny in the movie theater the other day and he was wearing the greasy popcorn bag like a hat.

That's what I wanted to say, but instead I said, "The forests are becoming suburbs, so leprechauns are losing their habitats. They're endangered, but not extinct. They were in the parade, remember?"

It's wrong to lie to my children like this. Especially since they believe me. But I am too ashamed to admit that I do not follow in the news the plight of the leprechauns. I just follow the messes in our house and contact whichever agency is responsible for cleanup.

What else happened yesterday? Let's see, I finally sent the kids upstairs to the playroom so that baby J.J. could sleep and I could clean. Within five seconds they were downstairs, jumping out around the corner saying, "Boo!" only it sounded like "You! Can't be alone for even one minute to clean this house."

"That was so funny," I heard them say on their way upstairs. It was so funny, in fact, that I forgot to laugh.

The house was at last picked up and they came downstairs to watch yet another movie, which I agreed to so that I could do whatever it is that I do. I think I checked e-mail and kept all the messages new in order to respond to them later, when I was more on the ball.

You know those expressions Carpe diem and Be here now? Yesterday was not one of those days. I guess the boys were fighting a lot, something that I don't even notice anymore. Richie fell asleep while I scratched his back and Johnny said he felt grouchy because Richie was always saying "poopy" and "butt" to him.

Now I thought this was mutual, but I didn't say so. Not right then. Because tears filled Johnny's eyes and I thought about how often the oldest gets blamed for a fight he didn't start and didn't want but had the type-A personality to finish. It's hard being the oldest, I think. Even as the middle child growing up, I always felt sorry that my big brother had to put up with my antics. Even as I tried to drive him crazy I thought this.

I told Johnny various situations where Daddy and I called each other poopy heads because we both wanted to play with batman or drink out of the red cup or whatever. And how Johnny and Richie had to put us in timeout. And we hit and kicked each other and chanted "Booty in the butt," and had to stay there all day. At night time, we fought over who got which side of the bed.
But finally we made up and decided to do a better job the next day. I don't think this story taught the lesson I wanted it to, but at least it made the boys laugh. Richie even woke up long enough to giggle and say, "Booty in the butt. Booty in the butt." Oh, why do I encourage them so?

Yes, it was a dreary, bleak, blurry day. Not the kind of day you envision when you decide to stay home with your kids. Not once did we sit down and do a puzzle together or lipsinc oldies songs. Not once did I pull somebody on my lap and say, "Hey, did you give me a hug yet today?" We shared some laughs but basically we all just stomped around the house like the seven dwarfs: Sneezy (Justin, who was sick,) Sheddy (Benny, our dog,) Bitey (Skippy our cat,) Hungry (J.J.,) Grumpy, Grumpier and Grumpiest, (Johnny, Richie and I.)

At one point Richie took a sip of water and yelled at the top of his lungs, "Take it. Take it. Take the cup!" simply because he didn't want to hold it for one second longer than he needed it.

I followed the advice I read in the Parents as Teachers newsletter and ignored this outburst. I wish.

Instead I yelled, "Can you hold the cup for five seconds while I put the toothpaste on the toothbrush? I only have two hands!"

"I can't! I can't!" he screamed.

"Say please, at least!" I yelled.

"Please! Take it!" he screamed.

"Okay!" I took the cup.

In hindsight, who holds the cup is a silly fight. Maybe not for a three year old. But for a 29 year old it is. I'll try not to do that again today.

Note to mother nature: We need sunlight. ASAP. You, of all people, a mother, should know that this cloudy, snowy, March mess is not funny. We are like shut-ins here. I'm just going to come right out and say it. You, Mother Nature, are a poopy head.


Anonymous mom said...

Here's hoping for a better day for you today on this bleary, dreary, snowy morning. I don't think you're alone on having a foggy day - sometimes I ask myself if I accomplished just 1 thing today? And you did make blackeyed pea art!

6:04 AM  
Anonymous Dad said...

great article, Beets. I think you accomplished alot. who knows. the kids may remember yesterday for many years...Da

6:37 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh, how I remember those cold snowy days cooped up in the house and everyone grouchy! I also remember those questions that come out of nowhere and your not really prepared to answer right away. As a matter of fact I remember after Madonna came out with her song "Like a Virgin", Justin asking me what that was at 6:00AM before I had my first cup of coffee! I tried to delay answering it until later in the day, but sure enough he remembered to ask again. Those are the times that make memories though, and you will have so many with that crew. Thank God for your sense of humor. It carries us through. (So good to see my grandsons have the same sense of humor too!) They make me laugh.
Love, Jeanne

6:43 AM  

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