The mornings are no picnic. But then again, the evenings have their own challenges. It all gets back to that endless cycle of weekday logistics. That seems to be what's stuck in my craw these days. I've discovered in my 4.5 years as a parent that the conventional wisdom about changes taking hold with kids is true: give it two weeks. Quitting the pacifier? Two weeks of rough times, then you're good. Daylight Saving Time? Two weeks and the adjustment is complete. Hopefully my surface-level frustration with the weekdays will return to its normal level after two weeks of fretting; by my count, I've then only got a few days left.
I got home tonight to a scene of tranquility. The kids were playing Zingo* with Zulma, the chicken pot pie was in the oven and already smelling good. I was greeted with smiles and hugs, which was lovely. But I had not even the time to set down my bag, in fact, I was barely through the door, the door which had yet to even be shut, when I got hit with, "Mama, can I play Angry Birds? Mama, can I play Angry Birds? MAMA CAN I PLAY ANGRY BIRDS????"
Jesus, kid, can I set my coat down?
Of course, I have no one but myself to blame on this front since I introduced Riley to Angry Birds. Now I'm in a position of having to negotiate media time when I'm not really ready to do so since I have yet to determine what I think is appropriate.
So for tonight, I first said no, let me get my coat off please and figure out where we are with dinner. Well, in doing that (with nonstop running commentary/input/feedback from two kids talking at the same time), I had my back turned on Riley for an instant in the kitchen, and he did something we have talked about not doing at least fifty thousand times. He moved the cleaning lever on the oven door into the locked position and the oven thus entered self-cleaning mode. With the pot pie in it. Which wouldn't have been such a big deal except it was seriously stuck.
Did I mention that I was so hungry I was about to rip off Maddie's juicy leg and eat it raw?
I turned the oven off. I mentally ran down a list of other options for dinner (pats of butter? slices of cheese? apple wedges on the side?) while I yanked on the handle of the oven and tried not to yell at Riley, who was clearly feeling plenty bad about what he'd done. It just slays me how I'll tell them not to do stuff, explain why doing the stuff I'm asking them not to do is bad, and it takes it happening for them to believe it. Why am I surprised by that? I'm often the same way.
So Riley's out in the living room sobbing on the couch, but begging to play Angry Birds through the tears. Maddie is in Best Behavior mode to make up for Riley's transgression with the oven. I'm still starving and yanking on the oven, which, miraculously, gives in and releases. I cheer and announce victory. I reset it at the right temperature. I go to console Riley. He curls up on my lap and hugs me hard. I hug back. I settle in for some snuggles to make us both feel better. He struggles to get free, still sniffling. "Let me hold you a bit," I implore.
"But I just want to play Angry Birds," he says. "Not snuggle."
Now I really want to scream, at myself. I let him play, but make him take it into his room where the music won't taunt me with my own foolishness. He's only 4.5 and he wants to play a videogame rather than snuggle me, even in a time of emotional distress! FEH. It always surprised me how much things like this truly hurt, truly get down deep for me emotionally, even though I know perfectly well what it feels like to be so obsessed by something, so engaged by something, and on top of that, he lacks the emotional maturity to think beyond that obsession to how his actions could have an effect on me.
Things turned around a bit from there. Maddie helped me with dinner. Riley complained bitterly about what was being served, but didn't cry, and heated up his own Smart Dog rather than eat pot pie. What a nutter. Oh, yeah, well, then there were the tears when we had a "race" to get into our pajamas. I started the race before Riley had his sweatshirt off! There's still progress to be made in the dealing with competition.
It's just the same thing over and over, some evenings with fewer crises, some with more. Some with none! Some with nothing but. Tonight was somewhere in between, as most of them are. It wears me out, all this, these days.
And now it's on to the chores of the evening. The trash needs to go out! The laundry needs to be folded! This is the stuff of life. It comes off as so whiny and complaining, but that's truly not the spirit in which I log it. I write it just as a record of where things are these days, how so very much there is to do, knowing it's the same for most all of us even if the exact stuff of our lives varies from person to person. It seems in a way pointless to chronicle, but for some reason, tonight, I really needed to write it all down.
*Games have gotten much better. Guess what? It took about two weeks for the serious tantrums about winning and losing to settle down. We still struggle with competition, but at a level that seems more appropriate for a child than the insanity of our first forays into competitive gaming. Also, we played some cooperative games in Utah with great success and much enjoyment by all.