hanging by a thread

It's been a bit of a week.


Chicken's power grows with every passage of the moon across the night sky.

Chicken pinched a little boy on the thigh in swim class. Accidentally. I saw it happen and I believe him - he happened to be doing lobster claws and the other little boy happened to be jumping up and down and kicking his legs out from side to side. It was just one of those things.

But then Chicken also kicked the sister of the boy he pinched. In the face. Also accidentally - he was kicking in the water because #swimclass, she was coming back to the platform face-first. But that was on a different day in class. And that mom is documenting everything I say at this point, so let's move on.

Chicken said, "Tell me the code to unlock your phone or I'll punch you right in the face." I said, "Oh, you sound ma--" and then he punched me right in the face. Not accidentally.

He also cleaned out my closet, by which I mean he removed each garment from the closet, took it off the hanger, threw the garment on the floor, and tossed the hanger in a pile. I would not let him do anything else until he cleaned it up.



 4 and a half hours of screaming later, he finished.

Chicken pointed at a man at the grocery store and declared, "My, is he plump!" When I snatched his hand out of the air and furiously whispered in his ear, he yelled, "WELL HE IS."

This conversation happened every day this week (with Magna-Tiles, towels, books, trucks, playing cards, and plastic cups):

Me: OK! Before we go to the park I need you to put away the Magna Tiles.
Chicken: (walks away from me)
Me: As soon as you put away the Magna Tiles we can go to the park.
Chicken: (opens fridge door)
Me: We can't go to the park until the Magna Tiles are cleaned up.
Chicken: (scampers into his bedroom and slams the door)
Me: Chicken, you know how to do this buddy. This is a normal thing. We alwa--
Chicken: (flinging open door) MOMMY WILL YOU READ THIS BOOK TO ME
Me: Magna Tiles.
Chicken: (silence)
Me: Magna-Tiles.
Chicken: Hm? What?
Chicken: Why do you yell so much?

And Buster?

Buster's impression of Prince Joffrey (I started watching GoT btw) (so there will be references now) (also spoilers) (so if you haven't watched Season 1, episode 8 yet) (BE WARNED) is spot on, except Buster has an actual mouth instead of a tiny puckered pink cat anus on his face.


When I told him he needed to stay in his room quietly until his clock turned green, he tipped over the dresser, unplugged the clock, ripped the lock off the door, and scampered giggling into the playroom, where he smiled at me from a pile of plush cushions on the floor.

Buster executed a breathtaking tantrum when I did not "TURN THE CAR CLOCK ON" on our way home. Chicken felt inspired and joined in the chorus.

this is the car clock
it's an actual clock
it just
it has hands

i can't turn it on
it's on
it's on
it's already on

please stop screaming at me
i made time pass for you
you could say
you're welcome

The tandem meltdown (and there really is no other word for it, a catastrophic destruction of the core, as a result of overheating) lasted for half an hour in real time, and forty days and forty nights in Katie's Head Time.

Buster pulled every tiny, hard green tomato off of the 5 tomato plants we started from seed 6 months ago, back when we believed in hope and waiting. We have spent 6 months watering these fucking plants, all so the boys could have a "tomato fight" in the backyard. "I don't care," he said. "It doesn't matter."

This conversation happened every day this week:

Buster: Can I listen to the BFG?
Me: Okay.
Buster: I want the chapter with the Queen.
Me: Okay. (starts audiobook of the BFG)
iPad: "The Queen."
Buster: NOOOOOOOOOOO (screaming like a Bieber fan confronted with the truth of Bieber)
Me: (Pauses iPad) You want the chapter with the Queen.
Me: Okay. This is the chapter with the Queen.
Buster: (calms immediately) Okay.
Me: (starts audiobook)
iPad: "The Quee--"
Buster: NOOOOOOOOOOO (screaming like a Cosby fan just awakened from a 20-year coma)
Me: Okay. No audiobook then.
Buster: WHYYYYYYYYYY (screaming like me when I try to shop in stores and all the shirts are half-shirts this season)
Me: Beca--
Buster: NO. NO, NO, NO. (the sound Prince Joffrey makes when offered grape juice with his dinner because he wanted Hawaiian punch)
Me: UUUUUUUUUUUGH (the sound my soul makes every time Prince Joffrey appears onscreen)

And me?

I fought with Ryan about who does more for our family, after both of us only slept about 5 hours a night for the last few weeks. Solid choice. Rock solid.

I lost a 6,000-word document containing a grant application and a portfolio of revised work. I jumped through 9 hoops to try to recover the cached file, and got the first 1,000 words back. If you're a writer, I don't need to tell you about the first thousand words of anything. You already know.

Also I peed my pants. Like, more than a little. We were leaving the beach and I really had to pee and Buster's wet pants were stuck to his leg and I was yanking them down as hard as I could with #GottaPeePanic dumping Niagara Falls-level adrenaline into my brain. At least I was wearing black pants.

nice spot for it
at least

Like I said, bit of a week.

It was "bit of a day" after "bit of a day" after "bit of a day," and whether the days put progressively more of the "bit" in "bitch," or my ability to recover simply vacated the premises, by Friday afternoon I was hanging by a thread.

after a double meltdown at the store
by the way
we were buying a cake
to celebrate the fact
that we were all still alive
on friday

i took the boys to a soccer field
i put on their sneakers
and i said

after a little while chicken said
"i'm tired"
i said
"no you're not.

after a little while buster said
"let's go home"
i said

And right now as I write this I am eating a hunk of Betty Crocker pound cake that I ripped from the loaf with my hand. It's my second.

It's a funny expression, hanging by a thread.

I use it to describe a state of desperation and depletion. I use it when it feels like all I have left are bad options.

I feel certain that if I were just more organized, or stricter with the kids, or less strict, or loved them more, that I wouldn't feel like I'm hanging by a thread. The fact that I've fallen to the end of a rope means that I've failed.

Hanging by a thread means I am small, clinging to survival like a rat on a ship's line.

A person hanging on by a thread has managed to hold on to the only thing that matters.

She's made the only choice she can make: to hold on.

And she's making it again, and again, and again.

Sure, I'm hanging by a thread today. And maybe you are, too.

You know who else is hanging by a thread?


She (and we) don't need to juggle flaming swords to be breathtaking.

She's hanging by a thread. Magnificently. And so are you.

No matter what else you did or didn't do today, you held on.

Good job.


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