Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Keeping time

Work has been horrific in these last few weeks.
Hyperbole is the word you are searching for to describe the tactic used in the previous sentence.
Let's try again... Work has been exhausting in the last few weeks: In that, "i feel blessed to be employed and have a job where I am valued, challenged, growing, and well compensated" kind of way.  I'm just spent, and not getting all that I want to do done- neither at work nor at home... and I'm staying up too late to compensate for the lack of sufficient hours in the day; but that is contributing to the extreme fatigue.

Last weekend, I tried to ignore my professional side completely.  It worked pretty well.  After spending the day on Saturday with the boys- enjoying life, hiking, laughing, eating ice cream, soaking in the warmth and comfort of the sun, I spent Sunday trying not to batter my kids.

I'm not saying that lightly.  I have wonderful, amazing children that I adore; that I would move heaven and earth to keep from harm's way...  But I have to admit, nearly 5 years into this parenting gig, I understand child abuse in a way I never did before.  Sometimes it takes all of your intellect and powers of reasoning, all of your coping skills, all of your spirituality and fear of hell and law enforcement officials to help keep you from inflicting corporal punishment.  Sometimes you have to hide the belts and the wooden spoons from yourself, and keep your hands busy...

Sunday was that kind of day.  The kids were just incorrigible.  They were obstinate and whiny and ruthlessly disobedient.  Jake got 5 time outs before 11 am.  Milo was spitting and hitting and picked up a terra-cotta flower pot over his head in the most intentional and menacing way.  I moved quickly towards him trying to sternly but calmly talk him out of.  He gave me a little grin and threw it to the ground with all his might.

The day ended with the version of our bedtime ritual that does not involve a bit of TV (that had long since been punitively removed from the menu of options): PJs, brush teeth, read book, say prayers, sing a song... We got to the part where they each get a small sip of water (the final step, the part that lets them know, "day is done") and the brothers began fighting about who would take the first sip.

I am careful to alternate this ritual, but I couldn't remember whose turn it was, and the whining and protesting was instantaneous.

Jake: (bursting into sudden, over-dramatic hysterics) I WANT THE FIRST SIP OF WATER... I WANT TO GO FIRST!!!
Milo: (in full blown imitation mode) I WANT THE FIRST SIP OF WATER... I WANT TO GO FIRST!!!
me: (so tired of this silly shit and the fake crying) Work it out boys.  You tell me who is getting the first sip... If you can't agree, then no one gets any water.

They each stood their ground, repeating their identical request/demand to be first.  I counted to 3 and offered one more chance.

"I GO FIRST" they wailed in unison.

I appealed to Jake one last time:  "Should your brother get the first sip? or should no one get any water?"

10 or 20 seconds passed while he considered his move: "No one!" He replied in what would be the day's final triumphant stand of quiet (possibly) stoic assholery.  Milo seemed confused, but did not have the debate skills to negotiate anything further with either of us...

I walked away silently wishing them well, "Enjoy the cotton-mouth, suckers!" I would have said if my sense of humor was not also dehydrated.

"WTF was that?" I thought over and over in my review of the day.  Where did we go wrong?!?

Today, we had friends over for dinner.  The boys were really well-behaved and sweet.  At bedtime (48 hours from the close of one of my top-10 least favorite days I've ever had as a parent) I had this conversation:

Milo: I wear your watch, Mommy?
Me: okay.  (I put the too big watch on him and start singing) Good night my angel, now it's time to sleep and save these questions for another day
Milo (checking the watch and then whispering) 8 O'clock!
Me: (singing) I think I know what you've been asking me... I think you know what I've been trying to say...
Milo: (checking the watch, another whisper) 6 O'clock
Me: (singing and suppressing giggles) And like a boat out on the ocean... I'm rocking you to sleep
Milo: (checking, another little whisper) 9 O'clock

Then, in between songs I sang while tucking in Jake...

Jake: Mom, when onions make you cry, do you think that's just their way of protecting themselves?
Me: Hmm...(trying not to laugh, lest he thinks I'm laughing AT him) It makes sense that that might be part of it, huh?
Jake: Yeah... a lot of plants and animals have all kinds of ways to protect themselves...
Me: (clutching my proud and overworked heart) Yup

I guess they do really listen. 

1 comment:

Adam said...

I cannot tell you how relieved I am that one of my parenting inspirations also has moments of wondering whether they're fit to take care of a houseplant, let alone a living, breathing child.

Because lord knows I've been there. Recently.

Maybe we can arrange hostage exchanges once our respective pairs are a little older.