I promise I haven't been on a rage bender, pounding Fireball and seeking out hipsters with suspenders that need snapping. I've been busy - back to school for Chicken means a massive schedule transition for our whole family and damn if I haven't had to spend at least 50% of my weekly blog time pre-washing and cutting fruit for grab and go snacks. THESE KIDS EAT A LOT OF FRUIT OKAY.
But now, without further ado, a blog post.
5 Moments in a Monday Afternoon
I asked him if he needed to pee before we got in the car. Traffic's heavy, I said. It might take longer than usual to get where we're going, I said. We won't have time to stop for a bathroom once we're on the road, I said.
Nah, he said. I'm good.
Everyone in the world saw the punchline coming, including me, but I was the person about to get punched, the person whose hope transcends her trust in physics.
Sure enough, 5 minutes in the car, brake lights ahead as far as the eye could see, Chicken whispered, "I have to go potty."
"No, you don't." I said it matter-of-factly, in the hopes that he was testing my mettle rather than legitimately about to piss in the car seat.
"I REALLY HAVE TO GO POTTY." His voice was a squeak, so I knew he was really clenching.
Luckily, we happened to be only 2 blocks from our house, which we had to pass to get on the highway. I pulled into the driveway, left the motor running, dashed around to Chicken's door, unclipped him, pointed to the bushes in the front yard, and said, "OK, go."
He looked at me, his eyes full of wonder. Front yard peeing is like kettle corn for breakfast - strictly a Daddy activity. "GO," I said again.
He scampered out of the car and into the bushes, where he lay his cheek against the splintery fence and sighed the sigh of a cat who has found the spot in the sun. He stood. I stood. The car ran. Buster ate popcorn. "Almost done?" I asked.
He smiled vacantly at me. You're not peeing at all, are you? I narrowed my eyes and took one step toward him to clip him back in - we were definitely going to be late to his 4 o'clock now - and he scampered out of the bushes waving a flat hand at me calling, "Wait wait wait wait! I've got the perfect spot!"
Down the gravel path toward the backyard he ran, and when he got to the fence he stopped and pulled down his pants again. "FINE," I called, "GREAT SPOT, CHICKEN. GO." I stood there and watched him.
His thin voice called back, "I need privacy Mommy. I'm all blocked up." I turned around, counted to four, and turned back. He was peeing on the gas meter.
"OK, great pee, hop in the car." He put his hands on his pants, but instead of pulling them up, he yanked them down to his knees. What in the name of Sir Ian McKellen...
"Mommy, I have to poop!" He squatted in the gravel.
"WAIT!" I screamed. Peeing in gravel is one thing; mother nature will take care of the clean up on that one for me. But taking a dump in a chunky pebble walkway was QUITE another proposition. He was already grunting, and I looked around frantically for a receptacle. PERFECT. A plastic bucket full of rainwater and pinecones. I dumped it out and put it under his butt.
"OK, go for it."
It should be said at this point that the car was still running, in the driveway, my door and the rear passenger-side door standing open, Fox News Radio on blast so I could broaden my perspective as I watched my son take a dump in a bucket, 10 yards from a working bathroom.
Hindsight is 20/20, okay?
"This isn't working, Mommy."
"What's wrong?" Even as I asked I could see the problem. The bucket was a little too high, and he couldn't really squat for maximal turd delivery without bumping into the rim and losing his balance.
Luckily, our trusty Little Red Wagon sat in the path mere feet away from our all-American family photo op. I pulled the wagon over, and after a few trial-and-error attempts to position my son's asshole directly over a bucket, we both kind of realized that hey, if he'd had to shit that bad, he'd have done it already.
So we got in the car and drove to the appointment.
We left the bucket where it lay.
For next time.
The whole thirty-minute drive home from the 4 o'clock appointment, Buster sat directly in the line of fire from the scorching rays of the Seattle October sun.
First, he screamed, "Too bright! Too bright!"
I handed him a book. "Here, put this over your face."
He spiked the book back at me and kept writhing and screaming.
"Do you want my scarf to put over your eyes?"
I handed him my scarf.
"NOT THIS SCARF!"
"This is the only scarf I have."
"I NEED ANOTHER SCARF!"
"Well... gosh. I don't have another one. Use that one."
"Or you could use the book."
"Or you could cover your eyes with your hands."
"What do you want to do."
"I WANT YOU TO TURN OFF THE SUN."
I clapped my hands twice, said, "Bippity boppity BOO! Alright, Buster. I have just turned off the sun."
Buster stopped crying.
"Thank you Mommy."
Chicken peered out the window. "Huh!" He said, like a fella who just spotted a menorah in the new neighbor's window. "So that's what it looks like when the sun's off. Still pretty sunny, I guess. But... you said the sun's off, so..." I winked at him in the rear view mirror.
Buster rode the rest of the way home smiling as he squinted in the bright, bright sun.
Actual conversation at dinner:
Chicken: I can't eat with this spoon.
Me: What's wrong?
Chicken: It's too wet.
Me: You're eating soup.
Chicken: I know. The soup keeps slipping off the wet spoon. I need a dry spoon to eat my soup.
Chicken: Let's come up with a solution. First, we'll need a straw.
if you think of the food chunks
as the "soup"
and the broth is the problem
because it is wetting the spoon
and the noodles are slipping off
i'm with you
a straw might be just the ticket
There was a difference of opinion about whose turn it was to use the excavator in the bath tub.
|AND FOR THAT|
It's not that I was done at bedtime so much as I was done at breakfast time, but still somehow spent the next 8 hours summoning the will to literally turn off the sun at the whined commands of my children.
So when I got the kids out of the bath, into their bedrooms, and began the nightly "I do not negotiate with terrorists who NEED night diapers unless they want to sleep in their wet, clammy, terrorist pee pajamas" spiel, and then Chicken decided to throw the ugliest fucking stuffed monkey on EARTH, seriously, on God's green Earth, and it hit me in the side of the head, I was Done.
|tell me i'm wrong|
look at that fucking monkey
he won it at the fair
my son actually picked this monkey
as a prize
he scanned the prizes
it's a burgundy monkey
in a turtleneck
Now keep in mind that I have spent the last month or so really taking the time to examine my feelings of anger, question what I'm really feeling, and why I'm feeling it, and then attempting to be both honest and age-appropriate in communicating those feelings to my 2 and 4-year-old. So when I say I was done, I don't mean that I set my hair on fire and screamed YOU DID THIS TO ME as my scalp literally melted onto my shoulders.
I mean that I sat there on the floor, took a deep breath, and tried to explain why I was so mad about this monkey.
"You know what, Chicken? No. I feel angry when you throw stuffed animals at me. I feel angry because I spent the whole day working for our family.
Do you know what I did for you today? I stubbed my toe running to you because you screamed EMERGENCY at 6:15 am and when I got into your room you told me that you found a tooth we hadn't brushed last night. I brushed that tooth, and then I put you back in bed, and instead of going back to sleep I made sure your lunch was packed, and your morning snack, and that your water bottle had clear, fresh water in it. And then I did that for your brother, too.
When it was time for you to wake up, I went into your room and said good morning darlings how did you sleep, and I cleaned your body and helped you get into fresh, clean clothes that I myself put through the washer and dryer before folding and placing them in your dresser that your dad and I bought, assembled, and then stained ourselves in the garage last spring. I did the same thing again, for your brother. I helped you both make smoothies for breakfast because even though it's harder when you help, I know you love making smoothies and I wanted to make sure you started your day feeling a sense of personal accomplishment. Then I cleaned up after the smoothie-making. Then I made your pancakes and cut them into bite-sized pieces.
I reminded you to go to the bathroom before we left for school. I remembered your bike helmet so you could ride bikes on the playground; I remembered your coat so you'd be warm enough if it stayed chilly. I remembered lunches and snacks and water for three people. In the car on the way to school I made up little songs that rhyme with my phone number so you would know how to call me if we ever got separated. Three-oh-three, the cat in the tree... seven-two-four, started to snore...
The whole time you were at school I tended to your brother - I kept him clean. I fed him, built block towers for him to destroy, read to him, weathered his kicking tantrum when I stopped him from LITERALLY wrapping a curtain cord around his neck and jumping off a chair, because it is my job to keep you both safe. I put on a Batman band-aid on his pinched finger, cooing "oh no, poor baby," and then I put another Batman band-aid on another finger because he really likes Batman right now.
I picked you up, brought you a sandwich from home because I knew you'd be hungry after school, and even with the sandwich I went through the Starbucks drive-thru to get you a chocolate milk and a bag of popcorn. Because I love you, and because Mondays are long days, and I'm proud of you for hanging in there.
I held a bucket under your ass on the gravel path beside our house, while you grunted and farted and did not, ever, shit. I clipped you in your car seat to keep you safe. I made sure you got to your appointment on time even though I had to park in a loading zone to run you inside, and almost got a ticket.
The whole time you were at your appointment I tended to your brother, clipped on his bike helmet and tightened it, and helped him learn to ride the balance bike in the driveway, and sang "Boogie-Woogie Piggy SERIOUSLY 47 times in a row. I dug out the baggie of cut strawberries I'd packed for his snack. I changed his diaper when he pooped.
When you came out of your appointment I held your hand to keep you safe when we crossed the street even though you whined and tried to shake me off. I held your brother's hand, too, and somehow, also, his bike, with the third hand I invented that used to be my elbow and rib cage.
On the way home, I turned off the sun for you. Plants need the sun, Chicken, to make their food. But I turned it off. For you. And your brother.
I made you dinner. I tried to problem-solve a way for you to eat soup without getting your spoon wet. I didn't give up on that. I took that seriously, Chicken. I care because you care.
I drew a bath for you and let you pick the essential oil to drop into the water. I helped you brush your teeth. I toweled your body with your favorite freshly laundered, dried, and folded towel, so you wouldn't get chilled. Ask me how your favorite towel got clean, dry, and folded again. Ask me again, tomorrow.
I worked every second of my day for you, Chicken. And it was my honor. It was my privilege. It was not always my joy, but it was always an unquestionable imperative that I did with the mantle of pride and gratitude. I am grateful that I get to be your mother.
But now, after all that, we come into this bedroom and what, you throw a monkey at my head?
That is not how you treat your mother. Not when I work this hard for you. Try again, sir."