Thursday, March 17, 2011

Imagine

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.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Four A Happy Birthday!

My 4 year old kid fell in the ditch last week. I should be a sympathetic mom, but everything about this scenario just makes me want to laugh, starting with the angry sobbing rant he delivered upon being retrieved from the ditch by his dad. Something like, “Now l’m soaking wet, even my snowpants, even my pants, now I have to change all my clothes, I’m really really mad at her, she’s a mean girl, I didn’t want to get all wet, I don’t like it, I don’t like it, I don’t like it. She should NOT have told me to go in the ditch, that was NOT NICE!”


Then there was the sobbing and eloquent explanations offered by his six year old sister, the likely suspect. Nothing like a child defense lawyer in action to prompt mom into more restrained laughter. The transcript:

Mom: Did you push him in the ditch?

Child: It’s not my fault, I didn’t want him to fall in.

Mom: Did you push him?

Child: He was already in the ditch. I didn’t want him to fall, I just wanted him to keep going.

Mom: So you wanted him to go in the ditch?

Child: Well he already did, all by himself.

Mom: Did.You. Push.Him?

Child: Yes, but his feet were already in the ditch. I didn’t WANT him to fall down.

Mom: Why did he go in the ditch in the first place? Did you tell him to?

Child: Yes. But I didn’t think he would DO it.

The laughter continues the next day as the boy indignantly tells the story of how he fell in the ditch and it was his big sister’s fault to everyone he meets, including cashiers at the grocery store. Details include how the water was cold and his wet snowpants were sooo heavy, that he didn't want to fall in, and that his sister is a MEAN GIRL.

Two days later, we prompt him to tell Grandma and Grandpa the story:

“Tell Grandma about how you fell in the ditch.”

The boy looks curious and intrigued, “When did I fall in the ditch?”

“Just this week. Tell grandma about it.”

“I fell in the ditch?” he asks incredulously.

“Yes! Don’t you remember?”

“Was I in a canoe?” he asks.

I’m laughing hysterically now, as I say, “No! You were playing in the snow, remember?”

Clearly he's blocked the traumatic experience from his mind, because the next question he asks is, “Did I ever get out?”

Yeah, my kid fell in a ditch full of ice water and I laughed.  One of the perks of being a mom.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

She's Got Legs

I just killed a spider. Got to thinking about how my sister used to claim spiders were our friends. Ya’ know, cuz they catch flies and other annoying insects. She used to catch spiders and gently release them into the wild. Me, I’m cruel and I just squash them if they’re in my house.


Our last house, we got a lot of centipedes. Now those things are just nasty freaky scary. They had a favorite route they liked to run. Late at night, while we were watching TV in the dark, they’d come running out from somewhere behind the TV, and race across the living room on their hundred creepy legs. We called it “centipede I-75.”

People tried to reassure me of the harmlessness of these monsters by saying things like, “They’re beneficial you know; they eat spiders and other annoying insects.”

So yeah, I’m really excited about centipedes now, and I can’t wait to meet the creature that has nothing else to its credit except, “It eats centipedes, you know.”

I wonder how many legs IT has?