I’ve been getting a little nuts lately with all the imaginary time on my hands. Being a stay at home mom, from time to time I delude myself by thinking, “I can do it! I can exercise, knock out the household chores, then practice piano a little, shop, cook, indulge in a few crafty creative activities.”
No. Not. Not at all the way I imagined it. Instead, I can exercise, if and only if I manage to get up before the kids. Otherwise, my “warrior” pose becomes, “Mommy, you’re like a scarecrow. I’m going through the tunnel.” And pushups prompt an excited cry of “Horsey Ride!”
And what about the chores? You mean, like pre-treating a million stains before washing a mountain of laundry. Picking junk up off the floor, putting it away, and then coming back to the same spot to find different junk on the floor that I need to put away.
All the while, I’m being whined at for not playing. So I must take a break to assist the 4-year-old in drawing up plans and instructions for building a flying machine. These crayon instructions are consulted very carefully, and we then construct our flying machine from a laundry basket, books, a paper plate propeller and rolls of masking tape for the landing gear. This is kind of a fun sweet time with my little boy, I’m thinking.
Sweet little boy gets in our newly-built flying machine and berates me because it doesn’t really fly.
I explain the concept of imagination, and provide a drum lid and wooden spoon to act as steering wheel and control stick. I narrate the takeoff, liftoff, flight through the clouds, and unexpected departure of the pilot in midair. Pilot is unhappy with the quality of the clouds: “I can’t see them.” Also wants a better horn for the airplane. Pilot gets back in with megaphone, and loudly complains that the flying machine isn’t working.
Mechanic quits, goes to work as chef. Pilot cries.
Eventually the child gets the drift that he must play on his own for a while. With all my dinner ingredients prepped and staged, I decide, I’ll try it, I’ll take a few minutes to try to play the piano. Child arrives to request we build ANOTHER flying machine. “One that works!”
I say, “Let me just play this song.” Child randomly pounds on keyboard. Bach is botched. I give up. It’s almost time to pick up the Kindergartener anyway, and from that point on, I’m just playing defense. Block the moves to dump lunchbox backpack, coats, and shoes on the floor, intercept attempts to start a fight with sibling, prevent the creation of chaos by assigning minor chores which will be performed carelessly, but accompanied by a flawless dramatic monologue.
“WHYYYYY do I have to do it? It’s not faaaair. HE doesn’t hafto. I did it YESTERDAY, WHY do I hafto set the table AGAIN? It’s too haaaaard. I DID put the silverware in the right place. It’s too HARD to line it up. I’m DOING IT! I just hafto go to the BATHROOOOOOOM.”
This whining is like a siren that shoots every rational thought out of my head, leaving behind only one thought. Or not really even a thought, just a mental image of my foot connecting to rear end and child launching across the room like a cartoon.
Fortunately, I need to keep stirring the stir fry, so I do not kick my children, I just grit my teeth, and get snappy. I try to save time, by going directly to that clenched teeth, over-enunciated tone of voice that is usually reserved for “the third time I’ve told you.” It doesn’t work, because of the hearing impairment that prevents kids from hearing any command the first two times, regardless of tone of voice, volume, or eye contact. Probably should begin every sentence with a fun word like “candy” or “playground” just to get their attention.
By the time the kids were at the table, scattering their rice and veggies all over the floor, I was very happy to see my husband home from work, so I could dash off to my part-time job. I kissed everyone goodnight and let the kids know that daddy would be putting them to bed.
I don’t know why they thought I said he’d take them to the playground.