So… today happened.
Mr. December and I awoke to a screaming match between R and K. I have no idea what the problem was, but this was actual angry screaming. I decided to ignore it. I think Mr. December got up and intervened. I’m not sure.
After that rude awakening, I slept in while the kids enjoyed copious amounts of screen time. Some academic work got done at Mr. December’s insistence, while I sat near N and tried to write a cute Passover-themed parody of Hamilton. It was mostly garbage; the one song that wasn’t awful was pretty much the original song with a few words swapped out. Who knew Pharaoh and King George III had so much in common?
Inspired by that, I moved on to recording a parody of Closer to Fine that a friend of mine wrote about the COVID-19 crisis. I recorded guitar and then two vocal tracks, and it came together beautifully. Then I spent another half an hour cursing because I couldn’t get the format right to be able to share it with its author.
In between recording attempts, I made the kids quesadillas for lunch. After that I felt like I was pretty much done parenting for the day. Unfortunately, there was an awful lot of the day left.
Things always feel better after we’ve been outside, so I was relieved when the sun finally came out this afternoon. E and I went outside with the sidewalk chalk and coloured part of our cracked walkway: the cracks formed diamonds and triangles, which we filled in with different colours. The way the cracks dictated the design made me think of a Leonard Cohen song, and so I wrote the lyrics on the concrete curb in front of our house in candy colours:
RING THE BELLS THAT STILL CAN RING/ FORGET YOUR PERFECT OFFERING/
THERE IS A CRACK IN EVERYTHING/ THAT’S HOW THE LIGHT GETS IN
Reading those words, looking at our artwork, I suddenly felt a rush of hope and purpose. The world is completely cracked right now. Nothing is right, and yet we have these perfect beautiful moments amidst the chaos. Maybe, I thought, if I embraced the cracks instead of fighting them, we’d have more good days.
Then I came inside, saw my kids’ antics, and snapped.
“DUDE!” I shouted, “What GIVES? Why can’t you sit on that hammock like a NORMAL PERSON? Why is it all lopsided and uneven EVERY TIME you get out of it?!?”
Meanwhile R was pestering us to watch Ghostbusters with her. The thing about R is this: she’s a sweetheart and empathetic and wonderfully thoughtful much of the time. The rest of the time she’s a nudnik – she’ll push and push and push until we explode. She won’t take no for an answer.
“Can you just STOP. TALKING. Please?” Mr. December voiced what both of us were thinking.
Turns out she could not.
I decided to put on my own oxygen mask, so to speak. I took my laptop up to the bedroom and closed the door. Mr. December came in shortly after that, swiftly shutting the door and then locking it.
“What are the kids doing?” I asked him.
“Don’t know. Don’t care.”
I shrugged and invited him to my personal Netflix party. We watched the first episode of Unorthodox, and I only reluctantly agreed not to watch the next episode without him. It was definitely binge-worthy.
I got through the rest of the evening with the help of YouTube. Does it count as parenting if I was sitting with the kids while we watched music videos? It felt like maybe we were bonding… incidentally, if you’re bored, type “Holderness Family” into the search bar on YouTube. You can thank me later.
While the kids were sitting on my lap I realized that something (or someone) smelled pretty rank. Turns out it was E, who had no compunctions about eating pizza and garlic bread and chewing her hair at the same time. She would only bathe if I showered with her, which is why I smell so sweet and clean right now. Trust me, it’s WAAAY better than the stench of desperation I was throwing off earlier.
I tried to salvage the day by reading to my kids. It started off on shaky ground: “This is boring,” said one. “I don’t care,” I answered, “Just be quiet and listen. Or don’t listen. But be quiet!” The book turned out to be interesting enough that Mr. December joined us (total number of people in the loft bed: 5) and I read seven chapters. It was a lovely feeling, with everybody cozying up to listen. I’m glad I did it. Then I tucked in the kids, who persisted in asking for more and more hugs until I got fed up and raised my voice. Way to salvage the evening and end on a positive note.
As I’m blogging, R comes downstairs:
“I can’t sleep.”
I hear this refrain every night. I’ve taken to saying, “I don’t care. That’s a you problem. Go figure it out.”
She’s still here, though, making kissy noises near my ear. Is it possible to feel a bit TOO loved?
“No. Well yeah, probably.” R says after reading over my shoulder. And yet she doesn’t take the hint. As usual, she doesn’t leave until the sixth time I say “Please. Go. Now.” — and by the sixth time, as those of you who are parents well know, I’ve lost my patience and my volume control.
It’s almost 10 p.m. There’s a shot of Amaretto in my tea and a cute guy waiting for me to watch the next episode of Unorthodox with him. And so… good night.