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Monday, February 01, 2010

Bad, Children! Bad!

If we are friends on Facebook, I sincerely apologize to all of you for my dreary status updates over the past two weeks. I suspect someone might be injecting my children with one of the types of red dye said to cause hyperactivity, or perhaps secretly sprinkling crack on their breakfast cereal (I don’t know too much about crack, don’t you have to smoke it? No idea, nevertheless, the effects I’m describing are the same).

A few of my status updates (they got increasingly desperate):First off, let’s talk about clothing. Specifically blue jeans. Now, didn’t jeans come into being because of their supposed durability and fabulous wearing ability? Aren’t they riveted together, specifically because jeans are so tough and so macho that ordinary machine stitching just isn’t enough to keep them together? Why is it then, that my boys can destroy a pair of jeans in about three days? We are destroying pants in our house at an alarming rate. Perhaps they are making ritualistic sacrifices in their bedroom while I’m diligently doing my school work, and maybe eating the knees raw and sprinkled with salt? I’m not sure, but we don’t have any pairs of jeans left in our house without gaping holes. Let me show you what I mean.

The knees all look like this:

A pair, minutes away from death:

There is a sort of progression to these kinds of things.

STAGE 1: I notice that the knees are looking a bit battered.

STAGE 2: Then a little while later, there appears a small hole. Now, at this point, I really should patch them or something, but honestly, it’s such a pain to have them find a different pair of jeans to wear while I do the patching that this has never actually happened.

STAGE 3: Next, it gets a bit larger, but still very wearable, then it rips longer and they start to look very ragged and there are large quantities of knobby knees showing. The bad part is that I just let them keep wearing them, even though in this weather, they might as well be wearing shorts with all the large drafts of cold air they must be catching, and they look a little bit like their mother is well-meaning, but clearly blind, or else she would certainly catch a glimmer of the white light that is regularly reflected off of their knees.

STAGE 4: This is when I make them stop wearing the jeans. They rip them down from the knees, to their ankles, with the sides of the pant flapping a little and looking quite strange because the seam around the bottom of the pant is still, in fact, whole, but the rest is clearly breathed its last. I don’t know why they feel the need to rip their pants apart like that. It must be the sort of thing that causes one to pick a scab, even when it’s clearly not all the way healed. You know you shouldn’t, but it just feels too good to get rid of that itching wrongness.

I’m going to start making a habit of picking up a new pair of jeans each time I go grocery shopping. That is how frequently we are losing pants.

Now, all that is not too bad. I don’t understand how they can possibly wear out pants that quickly, but it doesn’t leave me a profound sense that my life has taken a wrong turn somewhere.

Let me describe to you a typical morning in my life in the last two weeks. Keep in mind, this all takes place in the first hour after I get out of bed.

I wake up, around 7:00. I do not want to get out of bed, because clearly, I’m going to have to spend the next forty minutes making four people do things they do not want to do and do it quickly. They are not going to cooperate. They are going to act like I’m sticking hot pokers into their eyes and bamboo shards under their fingernails. And after all of that is done, I still have 12 hours until they go to bed.

One child pokes his head into my room, “Can I have cereal now?” I hear this, but I don’t move, hoping they will go away or perhaps the jolly leprechaun will leap off of the box and pour my ungrateful and demanding people cereal. The child leaves. Enter child number 2. This is Aubriana, by far the most persistent. She comes up to my head and demands cereal. I tell her just a minute. I blink slowly. She demands two or three more times that I get out of bed. She finally leaves. Then Xander comes in, asks for cereal. I say just a minute. Really, I should get out of bed at this point, but I don’t. I still have some mental gearing up to do. Xander sits at the end of the bed, and as I try to come into consciousness, he counts out the minutes. He is perturbed that it has been three minutes since I said just a minute. I finally sit up. I have to face it. If I don’t get out of bed now, we will be late.

How can someone so cute, be so loud??

I go to the kitchen. I’m bombarded by children demanding their favorite kind of cereal. In my half-awake state, I cannot recall what Xander said he wants. I ask him, he rudely tells me, clearly implying I’m the stupidest person on the planet because I cannot remember that he wanted Cinnamon Toast Crunch. It might not be so bad, if Aubrey hadn’t repeated that she wanted marshmallow seven or eight times already, in the kind of projecting voice that all my children use at the table and in restaurants—it’s not exactly a yell, but certainly not a normal speaking voice. If they have aspirations to such, they would each make an excellently-voiced theater actor. They could save the theater a fortune on microphone equipment. I pour them all cereal. Complaints follow about the amount of cereal, the person they are sitting next to and the type of spoon they have been offered. Griffin tries to tell me he wanted a different kind, but I clearly remember he asked for rice crispies. I tell him to suck it up (in so many words), and he pouts, saying he won’t eat it then. I say, “Fine,” an answer he clearly doesn’t like. I try to eat my own cereal. One child finishes and asks to play on the computer. I say no.

I put on my clothes. I find clothes for Aubrey, chase her down (she is surprisingly fast) and change her diaper. She is loudly complaining and trying to get away the whole time. I finally get her clothes on. Another child comes up to me and asks if they can play on the computer. I say no. I ask the other children to get shoes and socks on. I find Aubrey’s socks and shoes. Xander asks me if he can play on my Touch. I say no. Aubrey doesn’t want to wear socks and she certainly doesn’t want to wear the shoes I’ve picked out (or rather, the only pair of shoes of which I could find both shoes). She runs away. I notice Griffin still isn’t wearing shoes or socks. I tell him to get them on, he reacts badly, whining and complaining that he doesn’t have socks. I tell him there are socks in his drawer. He doesn’t like that answer, as I have rudely and thoughtlessly taken away his excuse for not wearing socks or shoes.

Before school is not the time for computer, iPods or TV. The end.

I find my exercise things (phone, towel, headphones, iPod). I put them in a bag. I can’t find my water bottle. I know Aubrey has taken it, but I can’t find it. I look around. While I am doing this, two children come into my room and tell me they are hungry. They act like I didn’t just see them eat a massive bowl of cereal. I say no to further food at this time—more complaints. I tell children to get coats on. Griffin has his half-way on when he grunts and whines and shrugs his shoulder. He says one word, in a baby voice, “Coat.” This annoys me. I tell him I can’t hear him when he asks like that. “Say, ‘Mommy, will you help me with my coat please.’” He expands to, “Mommy, help coat.” I say, “Nope, still can’t hear you, say ‘Mommy, will you help me with my coat please?” He says, “Mommy, help me coat.” I say, “That was closer, but not quite it. Try again.” He finally says it. I help him.

I wrangle Aubrey’s shoes on. I find her coat. Aubrey is refusing to wear her coat. I tell her she has to wear it. Crying fit ensues. She refuses, grabs the coat and runs up the stairs. I let her go, because Maxton can’t find his coat. I help Maxton find his coat. I think we are finally ready to leave. I go up the stairs. I realize I forgot my exercise bag on the bottom stair. I go back down. Xander is staring at the TV. I turn it off and tell him to get his backpack. He says, “I know,” with the most obnoxious tone. I grab the exercise bag and go up the stairs again. I notice Griffin is not wearing any shoes, despite the fact that I remember telling him to get them on at least twice. I tell him to get his shoes on. This is the point when I can feel myself winding up, past endurance. There is a tightness in my chest and I can feel my cortisone levels exploding, in little bursts. I feel like my muscles would like to escape the confines of my skin or that the muscles in my neck would make a good meat tenderizer. I feel like beating my head against a wall would be soothing.

Aubrey is at the top of the stairs, crying because she wanted to be the one to open the door. I go up the stairs. I realize that I still don’t have the keys. I go down, get the keys. On the way out the door, I notice Xander still doesn’t have his backpack. I tell him to go get it, then I put the other kids in the car. Aubrey resists and is screaming because she wanted to do part of her seatbelt. I tell her she didn’t ask and I’m sorry, but she’s just going to have to live with it. I scrape the ice off the windows. Children are complaining it is cold. Griffin says the same word over and over again in his baby voice, “Cold. Cold.” I feel like finding whoever writes Max and Ruby and shooting them dead with a pistol, just to watch them die. I notice Xander still has not emerged. Go back into the house to find him, he is standing dumbly in front of the TV, which he has turned on. Still no backpack. I yell at him to turn off the TV and to get his butt outside right now. He starts in surprise (really, surprise? How could he forget we were about to leave for school?) and he insincerely apologizes. Everyone is finally in the car and in seatbelts, so I leave.

I pull up to my nephew’s house. As I leave the car to knock on the door, I hear the complaining and bickering even after I close the door. I get Hyrum into the car and start to school. Griffin pesters him the whole way. I tell him to knock it off, or he is going to spend 20 minutes in his room when we get home (a random number, since time is a concept still beyond his four years, but long enough that it will matter to him—too short and he ignores me entirely, deciding that he’ll take his punishment if it means he gets to do whatever he wants right now). He proceeds to scream and fight with Hyrum. I tell him he is going to his room when we get home. He screams and cries.

I turn up the music loudly, because I cannot take another second of this. He hates the music and is screaming for me to turn it down. I blithely ignore him, pettily happy that I’m bugging him (that is soooo bad, I’m a bad mom, but it’s the truth). I start singing as loudly and as badly as I can, “It’s MY LIFE! IT’S NOW OR NEVER! ‘CAUSE I AIN’T GONNA LIVE FOREVER. I JUST WANT TO LIVE WHILE I’M ALIVE.” The whole back of the car explodes in “Stop, turn it down, STOP!” Haha. It’s much better to be the pesterer than the pesteree. We make it to school—I’m not certain I would be more tired if I had just completed three marathons in a row directly after giving birth. I turn down the music. Hyrum and Xander leave. I start getting questions and whining from the back seat, wondering if they have to go to the gym daycare. At this point, I feel too exhausted to want to exercise, but I’m going to do it anyway, if only to get away from the people in the back seat for 40 minutes.

The rest of the day is filled with complaining, whining, requests for food and fighting. I know they are all bored. I know they all have cabin fever. I know they are not getting enough sleep at night. I know I’m not really organized enough (would it kill me to organize things the night before? From the way I act, apparently it would), but I cannot take another week like this past week.

Most of the time, I really love being a mom, but this week, I wonder if I was sane to choose this on purpose. I’m clinging to some wise words from my friend, Farah, who wrote on one of my status updates that “children are a blessing, but sometimes a blessing in disguise.” Yep, mine are doing their best to be incognito blessings.

(A small note, I wrote this last week and today is Monday. Knowing ahead of time that my children were going to be awful, I have made some small adjustments and they were much better today. I think part of it was reflecting on this post as we went through our routine. It is spot on for what they do, and thinking of it made me better able to laugh at them and at myself.)

I've started a new blog: Come follow my crafting adventures on my new blog. Find me at: creativeirony.com.