The day had gone well. I had felt…vaguely productive. My kids had come home from school, played outside, and worked on homework. I headed to the kitchen to start dinner…which is always when the screaming starts. And, it inevitably did in this case as well.
Since it didn’t sound like a permanent injury, or hurt feelings that would require professional intervention…I went about my business of trying to throw together a dinner that would stave off vitamin deficiency for one more day.
ABBIE’S SCREAM CHEAT SHEET:
Screams not to worry about –
1. Screams followed by laughter.
2. Screams and sobbing that moves closer to me…mobility = no permanent injury.
3. Screams followed by yelling. Hurt feelings can be dealt with later.
Screams to worry about –
1. Screams that DON’T move closer to me…and another child comes to inform me of the “injury.”
2. Screams that suddenly stop…and another scream follows. Someone is exacting revenge.
3. Screams that suddenly stop. (ARE THEY UNCONSCIOUS?!)
So, my stove was on, and I was gathering various leftovers. I felt like a chemist, trying to find a combination that would be marginally acceptable, and healthy. The kids were playing…though, I could tell it was a tenuous cease-fire. With bellies rumbling, I knew that they would soon turn on each other like rabid wolves.
Naturally…the doorbell rings. I turned off the stove, and answered. The person at the door – “Hi, I’m a student and blah blah blah…earning credits for college…”
I’m generally a nice person. I usually will let them finish whatever long-winded monologue they have prepared, but I really didn’t have the time. I had four the equivalent of 4 ticking time-bombs bouncing on my trampoline, and a culinary science experiment to complete. So, I interrupted and said…”I’m sorry, I really don’t have the time, I have dinner on the stove.”
He must have thought I was just handing him a line…”But, this will only take 5 seconds.”
Really!? So, I responded, “1, 2, 3, 4, 5…thanks, gotta go.” And I closed the door.
Not 30 seconds later…I had two weeping children at my door. Well, one was in tears, the other was tattletale-ing. Bah!! My time was running out. We were getting down to the final seconds before hangry armageddon.
Sidenote…Hangry – hungry/angry
I put the two children in charge of clearing off the table (when you have boys that are itching to beat on each other…I find that keeping them busy is key) and getting it ready for dinner.
I was able to finish dinner in the nick of time. Children were called. Bowls were on the table. Favorite cups and utensils were distributed. Prayer was said. YES! I can take 2 minutes and run to the bathroom.
I perched on my porcelain throne…noting that the bathroom was…eh, clean enough, though the counter could do with a wipe down. I listened to the sounds from the table…giggling, laughing…I would probably have to sit with them, because I wasn’t sure my science experiment would be universally well received. *shrug* It would give me a chance to ask them about their day at school.
I leisurely lathered my hands, and noted my recent PMS-induced breakout was healing quite nicely. All was well.
What I returned to was a scene out of Lord of the Flies…or a monkey cage at the zoo. Child #3 was standing on the coffee table, being stalked by Child #1, who was trying to slap him on any available surface. Both were laughing hysterically. Child #2 was trying to force-feed Child #4 his drink of water, and clearly had been for some time…judging by the amount of liquid covering the table, and floor. These two were ALSO laughing hysterically.
I just stood there…waiting for them to notice my presence and tremble before me. #2, and #4, noticed almost immediately, and looked sufficiently cowed and repentant. It took #1, and #3 a little more time…they scampered quickly back to the table. But, I could tell…they were only upset that their game had been interrupted. Grrrrr. They sat back down at the table…but, their poking/tickling/pestering continued.
Me…well, my blood pressure was rising, my eye was twitching.
I explained that I was getting frustrated, and I would appreciate their cooperation. They didn’t stop. I broke out my I-mean-business voice. They didn’t stop. I yelled. They didn’t stop.
Do these children have NO sense of self preservation?!
I told #1 and #3…”Put your noses on the wall and don’t move, until I tell you to!!!”
Sidenote: Noses-on-the-wall is not a punishment. It is a device whereby children can stay out of trouble long enough for Mommy’s blood pressure to return to normal, so she can devise rational punishments. Otherwise she starts going a little overboard with the consequences.
This is when the doorbell rings again. I stalked toward it…”If this is that salesman again, I’m gonna make him put HIS nose on the wall.”
No…it wasn’t…it was someone from church who needed to borrow a crockpot, and a stock pot. I smiled, invited her in, and we headed to the kitchen…but, not before I reminded the boys on the wall that they had better not move.
I began digging through our stuff…the larger stuff, Matt puts away, and I have remained intentionally ignorant of his organizational paradigm. After a little digging, I found one of the crockpots, and promised to send Matt over with the stock pot. Then, I heard giggling.
Poking my head in to the
dining area, monkey cage, (soon to be torture chamber)…I saw the offenders with their noses still on the wall…all OVER the wall. They had used this moment as an opportunity to rid themselves of any allergy related nasal drippings.
I firmly informed them that they had each earned two jobs after dinner, for that behavior…then turned to smile at my guest, who was no-doubt wondering if I worked as a drill sergeant in a previous life…and walked her to the door…again promising to send Matt over as soon as he got home.
The boys were sent BACK to the table, and I wish I could say it ended there. But, no…dinner ended with even more jobs handed out as consequences. Matt got home, and I sent him off with the desired kitchen supplies. The children finished their dinner…which was actually not complained about as much as I expected.
When the food was gone…it was time for the followed through…let’s face it, this is just as exhausting, and psychologically taxing, as the naughty behavior. But, I held it together…and soon my trashes were all empty, and bags taken outside. The table was washed and a table cloth put on. The dishwasher was emptied. The kitchen floor was clean…ish…he’s 10. My family room was tidy. And, I was a frazzled mess of nerves. I retreated to my room to catch my breath…and maybe a few brain cells.
Then, Matt came in to let me know he was leaving for his usual Tuesday meetings.
I wanted to cry.
Matt reminded me that it was a youth fundraiser dinner for camp…and lamented that we couldn’t go as a family.
“You can take the children!! I will stay here!!”
And he did. And I did.
They were gone one blissful hour. *swoon*
Did I ever mention how insanely in love with my husband I am? Like head-over-heels in love. Like dreamy-batting-my-eyes in love. You can keep flowers, chocolate, and wildly romantic gestures. Taking four wild children, and braving a church event alone…that’s hot.
Hats I wore today…drill sergeant, chemist, zoo keeper, prison guard, borderline She-Hulk (there was definitely a tinge of green to my complexion), and damsel in distress.
My Knight in Shining armor wore jeans…and I fell in love all over again.