Tuesday, December 15, 2009

A two sided coin

Yesterday Sucked. Capital S Sucked.

It started out well. I took Charlie to school, Wes and I ran an errand up to my school. On the way home we stopped at Target for Christmas shopping then took lunch to Ryan at work. Then Wes took a nap and ate lunch and then we went to pick up Charlie. A perfectly pleasant and average day.

And then I picked Charlie up from school. I don't really know what happened to him yesterday. I don't remember the ride home and I don't remember the first few minutes after we got home either. But I do remember feeling really tense and angry for the next five hours until Ryan arrived and asked how my day was and I gestured to Charlie, catatonic on the couch wearing his school tshirt and a diaper and nothing else and Wes strapped into his booster seat at the table trying to eat some junk mail and gave him the "How the hell do YOU think my day was?" look.

It started to go downhill when I tried to get Charlie to take a nap. He didn't, is the short story, but the long story involved lots of noise making, potty accidents, foreign objects being put in the potty, and screaming because OMG I put the baby shampoo IN THE TOILET FUNNIEST THING EVER OMG! And then, obviously, Wes was awake and shrieking delightedly from his crib.

So, I thought, I'm not going to turn this into A Thing because when I do that we all end up miserable and it was way too early in the day for that to happen.

We all came downstairs and ate a snack and then I declared it TV-free playtime. Which went great until Charlie whipped Wes with a belt. The buckle end. On the face.

I think my reaction made it clear to Charlie that he had made a bad decision and possibly injured his brother very seriously because he jumped about ten feet when I screamed so loud I had a ministroke asked him nicely to please return to his room and not come out until the Senate votes on Obamacare. And then he collapsed into a miserable heap on the stairs, sobbing into the carpet. During this "naptime" he managed to completely empty his dresser of every piece of clothing he owns in an effort to find his school shirt.

By this time, mercifully, Labmama was on her way over. Charlie greeted her at the door in his carefully chosen school shirt and diaper ensemble and proceeded to dump every bin in the playroom into the middle of the floor for a nice game of train track/Little People/Tool Box/Tea Party/Trucks. Labmama and I let all four kids run around for a couple of hours while we sighed and wondered aloud if we were raising future serial killers.

Ryan came home early and we salvaged the day by heading out to look at Christmas lights and have some ice cream.

Today was the TOTAL opposite of yesterday. We went to the gym where Charlie and Wes got to play in the playroom while I walked on the treadmill and watched CNN. I took them to the basketball gym where they ran around like crazy men screaming happily and laughing and shooting and dribbling pretend basketballs, which is the cutest thing ever. Then we went to the store and bought dinner for the next three nights and bought blueberries and oranges and lunchmeat for lunch. They were appreciative and excited because ORANGES! HURRAY! The bakery had whole cookies as free samples. Everyone was happy and chatty and pleasant. Then we came home for Wes's nap and Charlie watched Word World while I (finally) cleaned our fridge of all the month old leftovers and washed all the shelves. The boys ate lunch and then we all loaded into the car to go to Charlie's ENT appointment where we learned his tubes are out and we are done with the check-ups. To celebrate we went to my favorite bakery where the special was a half turkey-sandwich, tortilla soup, chips and salsa, and a chocolate chip cookie and where they had adorable Christmas sugar cookies. The boys each ate their cookie calmly and neatly. I ate my lunch. A stranger commented on how well behaved they were. The salsa was beautifully spicy, the tea was strong, and the sandwich exactly the way I liked it. When Charlie had a potty accident waiting in line for the one-seater bathroom it was OK because a pair of undies and jeans had magically appeared in my trunk. And then everyone fell asleep on the way home and should be down for a couple of hours.

Days like today I feel a little sorry that Ryan has to work while I get to have so much fun with the boys. I can go wherever I want. Or I can not go anywhere if I don't like the weather or am just having too much fun baking cookies with Charlie. It's totally up to me. I can clean up the house or I can play trucks or I can read a magazine. I never know what to say to Ryan when he asks how my day was on days like today. He is always thrilled when I report a fun, easy day, but he hasn't had a day that was fun or easy in at least six months!

I am not one of those women who says things like "I just love staying home with my precious little angels. I can't imagine doing anything else!" Because I don't always feel that way and I can definitely imagine doing many other things. There's just not that much to show for all of your hard work at the end of the day--OK so the house is tidy and the kids are still alive, that's a good day! And I'm exhausted, mentally and physically, but there is no one thing I can hold up and say "I did this today!" I find myself decluttering or cleaning out the fridge or straightening or moving curtains from an upstairs window to a downstairs window because otherwise I feel like I am just spinning my wheels--jobs like dishes and laundry are never truly done!

But days like today, I know that something I did somewhere along the line is tangible and lasting. Kids don't learn table manners by accident. They're not born knowing how to talk nicely in restaurants. They don't say please and thank you unless someone has been drilling it into them since birth.

And let's not forget how funny it is to watch your kid turn into a mini-you. Charlie LOVES iced tea and cookies. When I told him I couldn't think of a better snack than a glass of iced tea and a cookie he said "Me too!" and asked for "another taste of your tea, please." (Yes, I let him drink tea occasionally. He's 95%ile for height, a little growth stunting will only ensure I won't have to special order his sneakers from the NBA one day).

It's tricky, though, because you never know what kind of day you are going to have. Is it going to be one long giant fight, like yesterday, or is it going to be a happy, carefree, easy day like today? And even on the best days I find myself always at the ready, waiting for the other shoe to drop. Today when I showed Charlie the tray of sugar cookies and gingerbread men he could choose from at the bakery I was still nervous that he would ask for something else and flip out when I said no (he didn't. He was entranced by the sugar cookie Christmas trees with the red and green sprinkles).

I wish you all happy days for the rest of the week. I find sugar cookies help grease the toddler wheels of compliance nicely.


Kim said...

Nice post! I will have to try sugar cookies ... our toddler wheels of compliance are not turning all that well recently!

Rima said...

Amen, sister! You hit the nail on the head.

Sarah said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sarah said...

ITA-- although I can usually tell what kind of day it will be by where I am in my cycle and by what time we all wake up. Sometimes, we just get a case of the crabbies, you know?
Love "toddler wheels of compliance"

statia said...

I couldn't agree more. I say, as my toddler is eschewing his nap. Not that I'm trying self fulfill prophecies or anything.

sarah said...

I love this post. I feel the same way. Some days are SO SO tough, and others just make up for it all. Life is good.