I was all poised to write something profound, but my brain is in “irritated” mode and I just can’t be thoughtful. So instead, a glimpse into my life at dinnertime and beyond:
6:15 – everybody sits down at the dinner table
6:16 – somebody comments that they need a spoon for their peas. I get up and get them a spoon.
6:17 – I start a nice conversation with Mr. December about his day.
6:18 – somebody spills an entire jug of water. I jump up and get the kid a towel so they can clean up the spill.
6:19 – I have to remind said child that the spill isn’t cleaned up until there’s absolutely no more water on the table, floor, or chairs.
6:20 – “Yes, the floor under your sister’s chair counts.”
6:22 – everyone is eating nicely together…
6:28 – … until they’re not. The spoons are not drumsticks and the table is not a drum.
6:30 – the children claim to be done and run away from the table. I get up, hunt them down, and bring them back to the table. In this house, you’re not done dinner until you’ve taken your plate to the kitchen sink – and I’ll return you to your seat at the table as many times as necessary until you actually show me that you’re done.
6:35 – I sit down at the now-empty table and eat the rest of my meal. If I’m lucky, the children are playing with Mr. December. If not, they’re whining while he gets ready to leave for a volunteer meeting.
6:40 – I finish eating and ask the children to get their pajamas on so we can read together.
6:42 – I ask the children to get their pajamas on so we can read together.
6:47 – I remind the children that if they waste all their time goofing off, they won’t get any reading time. I disappear into the kitchen to clean up from dinner.
7:00 – “Are you guys wearing pajamas?” No, of course not. In fact, they’re not human anymore. Staring at me from inside a cardboard box are a lion, a cheetah, and a bunny. Not one of them has brushed their teeth.
7:10 – “Eema, will you read us a book?” Three expectant, smiling faces peer over the back of the couch. A small hand proffers a paperback copy of Flat Stanley.
7:11 – They emerge from behind the couch. The costumes have been discarded. I suppose this is progress, although “naked” is not a synonym for “pajama-clad.”
7:14 – “Put on pajamas, or NO READING TIME.”
7:15 – They would, but they have to poop. All three of them. At the same time.
7:30 – I am finally done wiping bums. I send the children to put on their pajamas.
7:35 – Three children emerge in underwear, assuring me that this is all they want to wear to bed. We settle on the couch and read four chapters of Flat Stanley.
7:50 – They want more chapters. I know the feeling, but no.
8:00 – Everyone is tucked into bed.
8:05 – Everyone is back out of bed, either to pee or to drink, or possibly to drink and then pee (or maybe the other way around.)
8:08 – N asks me to tuck him in. “I’ll tell you when I’m ready, Eema. I just have to get my guys organized.”
8:11 – Sartre was wrong; hell isn’t other people. Hell is being forbidden to move from your child’s side while he arranges and re-arranges his stuffed animals according to size, genus, species, softness, and (I suspect) astrological sign.
8:15 – I finally tuck in the boy, followed by the girls. A gentle kiss followed by, “if anybody gets out of their bed for a non-emergency, there will be CONSEQUENCES. Do you understand? Good. I love you!”
8:18 – I can hear them talking, which I guess isn’t that bad.
8:21 – I hear them arguing, which is pretty normal, if not ideal.
8:34 – I hear crying. I evaluate it for pitch, intensity, and duration, and decide that it’s not serious. I ignore it.
8:43 – “Eema, my lemur is wet.” Whatever, kid. Just go to sleep.
8:45 – It hits me that if a lemur is wet, who knows what else has been drenched?
8:46 – There is a puddle on the floor of the bedroom with a water cup lying on its side nearby. No sleuthing required – I throw a towel at the floor and bark, “mop it up.”
8:47 – “Eema, I got hurt.”
8:48 – I lose it. “I don’t care. You wouldn’t get hurt if you’d all just stay in your OWN beds and go to SLEEP.”
8:50 – They’re talking again. And arguing… something about a lemur.
8:52 – I give up on thinking of a profound topic for this week’s blog post. Seriously, this post writes itself!
8:59 – I hear crying. Again. The three-year-old emerges, clutching her stuffed lemur and whining, “I need you.”
9:00 – The boy comes to the living room with an alphabet puzzle and says, “Eema, can you tell me what all these letters are?”
9:01 – “NO!”
9:02 – “Eema?” “GO TO SLEEP!”
9:03 – “But eema?” “GO TO SLEEP!
9:04 – “Eema?” “GO. TO. SLEEP.”
9:05 – Maybe I should just lead by example. I’ll hit “publish” on this blog post and then go to sleep.
9:06 – …right after I finish the next chapter in my book. And get a drink. And go pee…