My husband and I have 3 kids that are school age. He has a 6-year-old daughter and I have 11 and 14-year-old boys. We very carefully set the schedule so that they are all together whenever possible. We do this for a few reasons: If we plan anything exciting, no kid gets left out. This schedule means we also have “no kid weekends” to just enjoy each other. Finally, and this is the big one; we are idiots. The kids get along like peanut butter and bologna. Like lace and barbed wire. Like…well, like caviar and ketchup (TM).
Recently we had the kids, and we had plans. Ok I had plans. My biggest downfall on these weekends are my plans. My husband may think that this is (one of) my biggest flaws. He is not a planner. When we met I thought this was absolute insanity. How do you book a road trip vacation 2 years in advance without a plan? How do we look forward to something if don’t know PRECISELY what will happen in 6 months when we go to the Children’s Museum, then for a walk, and finish up with ice cream at Molly Moon’s?! My husband’s reasoning is that making firm plans just opens you up for disappointment. But he obviously has no idea what he’s talking about. I make plans. I have great intentions. I SEE how amazing this could be. I don’t just have rose-tinted glasses, I have fucking Disney glasses. I plan whole days of fun and laughter and wonderful, happy bonding moments. I spend disgusting amounts of money, slave over all the delicious carbs I can find, and wait for the magic to begin…And then real life intrudes and the silence is broken. Typically by someone saying “This pancake doesn’t even look like a heart.” or “I don’t want to eat the burned part.” (Every parent reading this knows that it is not, in fact, burned. It is cooked.) And like that, the spell is broken. Don’t worry! I rallied. Because I had plans.
So! Off we go, as a family, to daughter’s Christmas concert. (“As a family” I of course mean just the youngest and my husband and I. Because the other 2 were no longer interested in my plans. Despite my bribing, begging, threatening.) She did a fantastic job being a happy reindeer, singing her little heart out, waving at her adoring fans. I won’t harp on this part because the whole thing was happy and adorable, and that’s not funny.
On our way home I look back at our girl, so cute in her little red dress. She is peering out the window, rubbing her hand on the soft cushion of the car door. She looks over and sees me gazing at her, lovingly. She immediately jerks back from the window, hiding her hand. (we all know that nothing good is going to happen now). “What’s going on…?” I ask, tremulously. Wordlessly she holds up her index finger, which is topped with the largest booger I’ve ever seen, it’s like she pulled a crusty raisin out of there. We stare at each other for a full 15 seconds. Finally I grit my teeth (Literally) and say, “Were you going to rub that on my car door?” And she said yes. Because she is always honest. Always. She may grow out of that at some point, but for now, she is brutally, disgustingly honest. So where does one go with that? I spent a few seconds trying to decide if I was going to lose my shit or let it go. “Don’t do that.” I said unintelligibly, as my hand was still covering my mouth. She agreed.
It’s barely worth mentioning that the house was trashed when we got home (because this surprises no one). That each of my sons had (apparently) had a 7 course meal of packaged goods. I know this because every bit of packaging is strewn about the kitchen and living room. I mention that they may want to get it picked up. Eventually the 11-year-old stands up and I see a tiny muffin has been crushed to dust beneath his butt. Again, I am given the choice to let it go or lose it. I raise my voice, moderately, to get my point across. Have you ever seen a nature show were the crazy person is face to face with a rearing grizzly bear and the crazy person says “OK! JEEZ! CALM DOWN!” No. You have not seen that. Because NO one is THAT crazy. Except my boy. One kid down (he’s grounded. Calm down.). My older son is then asked for the 15th time to clean up. His manipulation is a little more subtle. He hugs. The more angry I get, the more I get hugged. It feels like a pat on the head. I hate this more than sparring with the younger one. At least that seems honest. When I say “Clean this up NOW!” and I get “But I want to hug you first….” it’s all I can do not to sweep his legs. So kid #2 is grounded. Yes, for trying to hug me.
At this moment is when the youngest one announces that she has wet her pants. On our bed. Because she didn’t want to take the time to go to the bathroom. (She has been fully potty trained since 2. This “not wanting to miss anything” business has come up recently. And it is….frustrating.) My husband, noticing that I have dropped my head between my knees and am shaking slightly, deduces that I may not be the best person to deal with the accident. While he is dealing with the mess I’m staring into space, thinking about my plans, and how kids ruin everything. Wondering if it’s too late to leave them all at the fire station. Wondering if anyone would notice if I just walked out the door right now. Dave comes back in, and sits down, waiting… “I HATE THIS! They are awful! All they do is make messes and fight and stink and RUIN EVERYTHING! I’m the Queen of Shit and Piss!!!!” I sob. Dave laughs so hard he nearly falls off the couch. This does not help. But seeing the little girl hiding in a doorway down the hall listening in brings me back to sanity (ish). She walks over, cautiously, and stands in front of me. “I’m sorry that you’re sad.” I tell her I’m not really sad, I’m frustrated, and acting badly, and getting over it. She looks at me critically for a minute and then climbs up on my lap, snuggling in under my chin. She looks up at me and says, so sweetly, “At least you’re the queen.”