Friday, October 4, 2013

Irrational Little Monsters

When I got back in the car after safely delivering my two children to preschool, I wanted to breathe a sigh of relief, but it just wouldn’t come.  The only thing positive to come out of our morning is the probability that Jamie will not try to climb up and touch the stove anymore.


It started with Charles screaming and crying when he woke up and found me already in the shower.  Without him.  I have to get up pretty early to shower alone, and apparently, 6:30 is not early enough.  Then, Tony tried to toast an English muffin for Charles, but Jamie grabbed at the muffin and broke it.  A broken muffin effectively ruined Charles’s life, and after a screaming fit, he ended up in timeout in his room.


Then Tony left for work, but not before informing me that the coffee pot stopped working after six years of loyal service.  I boiled water for tea and then, after pouring my tea, moved the tea kettle away from the hot burner (and closer to the edge of the stove, but not, like, hanging off or anything) because I couldn’t deal with the loud whistling.  A whistling kettle is convenient, it keeps me from forgetting that I have water heating, but I was in such a hurry that instead of refilling the kettle with cold water to stop the steamy whistle and then replacing it on the hot burner, I just moved it.  There are consequences to every action.


I ran back upstairs and explained to Charles that little brothers are the worst.  Their whole reason for existence from about age 1 to 22 is to frustrate and annoy their older siblings.  “Charles,” I said, “when you’re in college, your brother is going to call you at 8 am on a Saturday morning, maybe every Saturday morning, even though he knows you will have been out late partying the night before.  Hell, he will do it because he knows you will have been out late partying.  You can’t give him the satisfaction of going ballistic every time he pushes your buttons.  Instead, be happy that he loves you enough to call, even if it is on a Saturday morning after a rager of a frat party and all you want to do is curl up and go back to sleep for the next decade.”  My parents used the same logic on me and it didn’t really sink in until high school that the best way to deal with my brother antagonizing me was to ignore his efforts, but maybe Charles will catch on earlier in life.  I probably should have told him (for the millionth time) the story of how Leland would crawl over to me when I was playing with my dollies, grab one, rip the head off, and throw it across the room and giggle.  All, presumably, to make me cry and scream.  But Charles thinks that story is hilarious, so the lesson isn’t really clear to him.  Regardless, he calmed down and we went downstairs to make breakfast.


But then I put Charles’s new English muffin on an orange plate.  NOT THE CORRECT PLATE.  He flipped out again, at which point I removed myself from the situation.  You see, I have three ways to deal with things like this: yell and scream, which generally accomplishes nothing but making my kids cry harder; cry, which generally accomplishes nothing but ruining my makeup; or walk away until I am calm enough to find a reasonable way out of the emotional mess that is a bleating, angry, four-year-old (Fucking Fours, man).  I told Charles, “You have lost your library privilege for this afternoon.  You need to calm down and apologize or you won’t be allowed to go to T-Ball tomorrow, either.  I am angry and frustrated and I am going to take a timeout!”  And I shut my bedroom door.  Then I finished my makeup.


Jamie tap-tap-tapped on my bedroom door a few minutes later, so I wiped the jam off of his face and changed his diaper, got him dressed, and read him a story.  By the time I finished that, Charles had calmed, so I went downstairs (to the immense dismay of Jamie, who loudly and shrilly expressed his desire to have me read more stories) to assess the damage.  Because there is always damage with Charles.  I hadn’t heard dishes breaking, so I hoped it would be relatively minor.


He had torn apart my breakfast and made himself another new English muffin and was eating at the table.  We had a rather one-sided talk about how we don’t waste food, how some kids don’t get to eat breakfast at all, how mom and dad work hard to provide food for him and it is disrespectful to treat us and our food this way.  (Am I the only one who does this?  Who immediately makes the leap to “lots of kids in the world, hell, in our community, would be so happy to have a regular meal and my kids are shunning their dinner for no reason whatsoever.  Last month they loved this dish!”  I swear, you cannot escape your past.  I am totally a product of “there are starving children in Africa!” admonishment from the eighties.)


I made a smoothie because it was already 8:15 (nearly two hours into the morning; we are super efficient) and I figured I was not going to get to sit down and enjoy breakfast.  I was right.  I went upstairs for something, called down to the kids to get in the bathroom and brush their teeth and when I met two angry, screaming kids in the bathroom, it was all I could do not to let my brains explode out my ears while I brushed Charles’s teeth.  When he was done, I turned to Jamie, who kept saying, “Hot.  Hot, mommy.”  He was holding his poor baby finger, which had a red, irritated blister on the end.  I sent Charles to put his shoes on and take a time out in the car and I grabbed an ice pack.  Jamie admitted, in his way, to climbing up the stove and touching the still-hot metal tea kettle.  I managed to get some ibuprofen in him and brush his teeth.  Nothing like your baby getting an actual, real injury to make you feel like a worthless parent.  Which is what I was all morning.  Totally worthless as a parent.


I cradled Jamie to the car, holding the ice pack on his finger.  I grabbed my smoothie and rummaged in the fridge for something, anything, to take for lunch.  I grabbed the paper (which I hadn’t read) and the school bags.  I picked up what was left of my dignity and sanity and I got behind the wheel and tried to sound perky, telling the boys that the rest of the day was going to be great!  Great!


When I got to work, I realized that I hadn’t brushed my teeth this morning.


Julia said...

oh, I'm sorry. Nothing like having a rough, kids-driving-you-battshit kind of morning turn into one with a "real" incident. Ellie's been doing that a lot lately - I can't control her wild antics and she's driving me mad, but then she honestly hurts herself. It wrecks you. Hugs for you (and your sweet boy too!).

Sylvie said...

- tooth brushing can be over-rated
- orange plates are an insult to good taste and should be banned (the orange plate from the ikea set is not getting any love around here either)
- at least they were dressed when you left (someone is refusing to wear shirts and pants around's not me)
hang in there..they love you more than anything even if they don't realize/voice it :)