Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Thick As Thieves

Having more than one kid is wonderful. Your kid will always have a built-in friend. A life-long ally and confidant. Someone to stick up for them when the world is cruel. And, as with my own lovely children, someone to blame when something breaks or goes missing or the dog is sporting an interesting bald patch on the side of his butt where beautiful tufts of fur used to be.

Monday was the first day of routine normalcy after a long stint of visiting family elsewhere, family visiting here, or getting ready to go enjoy some pool, park or playdate merriment. We didn't have anywhere to go, anyone to see, or anyone to hide from behind a giant Easter candy display at Target because I let my kids dress themselves in outfits that made them look either a.) like they were trying out for a role in Oliver, or b.) had just run away from the circus.

But after a week of being charming for house guests and relatives alike, my children apparently decided their wells of charisma runneth dry. Which meant that I got to hang out with two mini-people who often make Christian Bale and Lindsey Lohan look like Mr. Rogers and Mary Poppins. (I would have also accepted Charlie Sheen in lieu of Christian Bale, but I think that horse is dead. Although I've gotta admit, I'm kinda feeling him on the whole '10,000-year-old brain and the boogers of a 7-year-old.' Only mine are the boogers of a 4-year-old. On my dining room wall.)

The problem with Rollie and Elsa is that when they decide to be crabby at the same time, their crabby manifests itself in completely opposite ways. When Rollie is crabby, he's whiny, demanding, and the bones in his body are temporarily replaced with rubber bands. Seriously, ask the kid to do something as simple as wash his hands, and instantly he collapses on the floor in a pool of fleshy jello and Buzz Lightyear jammies, an odd, high-pitched whine emanating from the mass.

When Elsa is crabby, she's just a sparky little shithead. She'll throw stuff, kick stuff, purposely gets in the way. She'll run off to play in the bathroom sink and come back soaking wet with Rollie's toothbrush hanging out of her ear. She'll just do the most obnoxious, random crap, and when I inevitably put her in Time Out, she'll scream and bang her head against the wall a few times, just to let me know how bad she thinks I suck.

And if she decides she's not sufficiently raising my hackles, she'll try her antics with Rollie. And that's when things at my house go to eleven on the Mommy's-About-To-Lose-Her-Freaking-Mind-O-Meter.

Monday morning as I attempted to convert the kitchen from the aftermath of what looked like an Iron Chef competition where none of the contestants remembered his glasses, my children were in the TV room, taking in one of the many educational shows in Nick Jr.'s line-up. (At least, I think they're educational. That's what the disclaimer at the beginning tries to tell me. I'm starting to wonder though...with the amount of TV my children watch, they should be coming up with esoteric theories about the universe. Or at least theories behind why Mommy should have to clean up the scattered puzzle pieces if they're the ones who threw them all over the place in an apparent attempt to recreate the confetti scene from Footloose.)

All was calm for about 5 minutes. And then:

Rollie: Elsa...I can't see.
Elsa: Peek-a-boo, Rol Rol.
Rollie: I don't want to play peek-a-boo with you.
Elsa: Peek-a-boo.
Rollie: Elsa, you're in the way!
Me: You guys....Be nice. (I know...nice try. Trying to curb a potentially explosive situation with the suggestion that my grumpy children "be nice" is like trying to talk a suicidal bridge-jumper down with the promise of taking him to a romantic comedy co-starring J-Lo and that robot from Short Circuit.)
Elsa: Peek! A! BOOOOO!
Rollie: Go away, Elsa! I don't like you right now.
Elsa: Knock knock, Rol Rol.
Rollie: No, I don't want to hear your joke. Go away!
Elsa: Knock knock!
Me: Rollie, just say Who's there so she'll leave you alone.
Rollie: ...Who's there?
Elsa: Mickey Mouse's underwear!
Rollie: Go away, Elsa. Go on the blue chair. (The blue chair is the equivalent to exile on a deserted island with nothing to do but unzip the matching throw pillows and pull out the polyester stuffing, which is what Elsa proceeded to do once she'd hoisted herself up.)
Rollie: Mo-mmaaaa...Elsa's doing something.
Me: What's she doing, Rol?
Rollie: ....
Me: Rollie, what's she doing?
Elsa: Ta-dah!

And since from previous experience I've learned that when a child says Ta-Dah, this is not to reveal some amazing and wonderful trick she's performed to the surprise and delight of an adoring crowd, I abandoned my attempts to revive my kitchen and went to investigate.

Me: Elsa, put that stuffing right back in the pillow.
Elsa: Ta-dah! (She pulls out another handful and throws it on the floor.)
Me: Elsa, I'm serious. Get down and pick that up. You are ruining my pillows.
Elsa (batting her blue eyes at me): thank-you, Momma.
Me: Um, yes, thank-you. Please do it now or you're going in Time Out.
Elsa: No way, Jose. (Why do I feel like this phrase is somehow politically incorrect?)
Rollie (eyes glued to the TV screen): Put her in Time Out, Momma.
Me: Rollie, let me handle this, please.
Elsa: Ta-dah! (Stuffing goes flying)
Me: That's it. (I stride over to the blue chair and snatch up my insolent daughter, who now realizes I mean business and is trying to roll out of my reach). You are in time out.

I stick her on the floor in the designated spot and set the microwave timer. And try to ignore the screaming and banging, even though it's penetrating my brain like I'm hungover and have awakened next to a jackhammer testing facility.

Let's fast-forward to lunch, just because trying to chronicle every nuance of bad behavior my children displayed before noon will turn this blog into the War and Peace of posts. So I set out their typical fare of turkey, cheese, grapes and crackers (because if I don't represent all four food groups I will feel like I somehow disappointed my sixth grade health teacher...and that he might come hunt me down, his zippy track pants swish-swishing all the way), and went off to do something productive...quite possibly mark on my calendar just how many days I have left until I can finally drink a beer. (123. But who's counting?)

I reenter the kitchen to find every blessed grape I put before my children on the floor. And both children perched in their chairs like devilish little gargoyles.

Me: You guys! Why are there grapes all over the floor? (Uh...gravity, Momma....hellooooo?)
Rollie: Elsa did it.
Me: Um, I don't think so, Rollie. Both of your grapes are everywhere.
Elsa: Rol Rol did it!
Me: You both did it, and you both need to get on the floor right now and pick every last one of them up.
They both giggle, like I've just suggested they moon the neighbors across the lake. Again.
Me: Do it now guys, or you're both going in Time Out. Here. I hand them a colander. Put all the grapes in this, please.
Like an idiot, I leave the room again, and after about 30 seconds I hear more giggling.
Me: What's going on in there?
Rollie and Elsa: ......
Me: You guys? I give up trying to get anything done and return to the kitchen, where my children are on the floor beneath the table, squishing the grapes up and putting the crushed carcasses into the colander.
Me: Okay, this is not at all what I asked you to do. Why are you squishing those grapes??? As if I'm going to get a civilized answer, like, "Momma, we are seriously contemplating starting up our own winery, and we wanted to see if this year's crop of Chilean grapes had the proper characteristics to produce a full-bodied, mature carafe of wine."
Rollie: Because it's fun.
Me: Well, here's a paper towel--I want you to wipe up all that yucky juice from your grapes, finish cleaning up, and then you're both going in Time Out. 
They do what they're told, even though it's becoming clearer to me that Time Out is about as effective a punishment as making them eat a handful of M&M's dipped in marshmallow fluff.

As promised, I put them in time out together, ignoring them giggle and make faces at each other as I try to finish whatever the hell it was I was doing twenty interruptions ago. Although I have to admit, it is kind of funny, them being so f-ing mischievous. They feed off each other, and seem to have a great time seeing how much they can get away with before Mommy goes Joan Crawford on their dimpled little asses. They remind me very much of my sister Carrie and me, and all the sneaky crap we used to pull--although now that I think about it, nothing we did seemed to really faze our mother. She'd seen enough by the time kids 4 and 5 rolled around that if we elicited an over-tired sigh or banishment to the backyard, we must have really done some serious sinning. Needless to say, Carrie and I found ourselves in the backyard a lot. Even in knee-deep snow with negative 12-degree windchill.

Uh-oh--I hear the Wrap it Up music coming on, so I'll cut the rest short. Even though throughout the rest of the afternoon, my children managed to:

a.) break one of our kitchen chairs
b.) pee on the floor (where my dog came this close to licking it up before I freaked out and put him outside, even though it would have saved me the trouble of cleaning it up myself)
c.) drop a 20-pound speaker component on his big toe and send me into heart-attack mode where I thought there was another ER trip in my immediate future
122 days and counting
d.) get into the Ovaltine. Again.

Okay, I think that's it.... How many days did I say were left before my next beer?

1 comment:

  1. You COULD shave your head and get a baseball cap and a pair of mad glasses.