Sunday, November 28, 2010

Have I mentioned that I hate shopping?

I should have taken it as a sign when my car refused to continue up the small hill leading out to the street after I had stopped to wait for traffic. I had to pop it into reverse and then floor my break as I slid backward into the parking lot before coming to a very slow and reluctant stop. That should have told me right there to go no further. Park the car, get the kids back inside, lock the door, and don't even think of venturing out until the light of day. But I'm stupid stubborn. So I made it out of the parking lot after getting a running start up the hill and after minimal slipping and sliding, ventured into the night for groceries. (No, I don't know why I waited until dark.)

This isn't a post about a car accident. I made it to Safeway without incident or injury. Once in the store, however, I received a psychological thrashing courtesy of my wee angels. (Shrek is playing in the background right now, hence my use of the word "wee".) Honestly, it started off okay. I got through about a third of my shopping without drama and I think that might be a record. Things went all pear-shaped once Ethan figured out how to kick his boots off. At first, I thought they had simply slid off his feet. They're rain boots that actually belong to Ben so they have nothing by way of fasteners and they are a little big on Ethan. So, I picked the boots up and placed them back on his feet and continued shopping until I heard a couple of tell-tale thumps and discovered that the boots were once again on the floor. I eyed Ethan suspiciously and the little imp giggled and pointed at his boots while extending his feet. Okay. I picked up the boots, put them back on his feet, and slowly continued down the aisle. This time, I caught him kicking his boots off and he knew I caught him and he thought it was hilarious. He stuck his feet out once again but I wasn't going to play his game, damn it. I stuffed his boots on the lower shelf of the shopping cart, gave him my best "that'll learn ya" look, and resumed my shopping.

That's when the screaming started. Ethan's scream is legendary among those of us who have had the great misfortune to experience it. He wails at such an offensive pitch that you can feel all the tiny bones of your ears shuddering in agony. I have literally placed my hands to my ears to check for blood during these screams. I imagine that parts of my brain liquefy from the assault, precious memories and bits of knowledge that I will never recover thanks to the superhuman vocal abilities of my baby boy. If we were home alone, maybe I would have handled things differently but I had to consider the innocent bystanders. I did what parents are told never to do. I relented and gave him his boots back. At first, I tried just placing them next to him in the cart but that only enraged him further. He threw his boots down the aisle and inhaled deeply for another auditory attack. Given that he threw his boots, which is extra bad, I really shouldn't have put them back on his feet. Lord help me, though, I did. And that act signaled to Ethan that mommy would play his game and we played it for the rest of time we were there. He was so delighted.

I shopped. Thankfully, the checkout line wasn't the hell that I was fearing. Ben, maybe sensing that at least one of them needed to consider my sanity, helped me place the items on the belt and didn't even whine for candy. He did, however, grab a giant handful of plastic bags that he proceeded to crumple and scatter while attempting to "assist" the girl who did the bagging. He was being polite about it, though, so I let it slide. The girl would have to fend for herself.

The drive back was a smidge harrowing because the brakes in my Buick aren't being completely reliable right now. I was driving slowly and very defensively but really didn't encounter any angry drivers until right when I was about to turn left into the parking lot. The guy in the truck behind me lost patience and then illegally passed me, nearly causing me to run into him. Jerk.

Getting everyone back inside our home turned out to be kind of interesting as well. I grabbed all the bags and headed for our place while Ben and Ethan wandered off in the opposite direction, apparently intent on disappearing into the night. I called to them repeatedly as I hurried as fast as I could on the slippery sidewalk to deposit my groceries at my front door so I could go retrieve my kids. Ben was making very slow progress to our home on his own but Ethan ended up being rescued by one of my neighbors. He was holding Ethan's hand and guiding him to the sidewalk while Ethan slid all over the place, whining in protest. What do you say to your neighbor who has just discovered that you will, in fact, abandon your child to the elements (albeit briefly) to set down some groceries?

I just reread all of this and realized I should have just written "I went shopping and it sucked" and left it at that. Oh well.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Mom flew over the cuckoo's nest.

Have you ever gone crazy and then come out the other side? I think I might be there. We have reached a level of absurdity in our home that no longer warrants anger or discipline, just helpless laughter and hyperbolic threats of decapitations and trips to the black market to look for potential new parents for our heathens. Want to know what happened last night to round out our lovely Thanksgiving?

That's Ethan, covered in Cetaphil. Granted, something like this happened months ago but it was not quite to this scale and I was certain we had put it all behind us. However, I ventured upstairs to check on the kids last night and saw Ben crouching behind the rocking chair, squishing the lotion in his hands and attempting to hide the fact that he had an ample amount of the stuff worked into his hair. Silly me, I thought that was the extent of it. And then I stepped further into the room and got a glimpse of Ethan. I was at a loss. I mutely took the jar of Cetaphil out of his hands and went downstairs to 1) grab the camera and 2) inform Clyde that his kids needed him. Drama ensued along with a hose-down and a load of laundry.

Grabbing the camera speaks to the fact that I just might have given up. I am aware that swift discipline was the appropriate response but I don't think I see the point anymore. This is just going to keep happening and it's going to keep escalating as my kids get more and more creative. Not all that long ago, this is what awaited me one seemingly quiet evening when I allowed the boys to play together before going to sleep:

They don't get to play together unsupervised in their room anymore. I know, I know... I brought this on myself. And then there's what happened to our new keyboard when I was making the kids their dinner.

There's also the crayon drawings on various surfaces, the big hole in our living room wall (yes, the kids did it but I doubt they would have accomplished it if our walls weren't actually made from a material as crumbly as shortbread), the Sharpie tiger stripes that Ben drew on himself and the incident that continues to live in my nightmares although it happened over a year ago. Ben "decorated" the walls in their room with his own feces. Yeah. I had to call some friends over to supervise the kids while I cleaned the horrifying mess. Actually, I believe my exact words on the phone to them were "please come over and keep me from killing my oldest son".

Time has passed. Both kids are alive and healthy. Something has happened to me, though. I have entered a state of bemused hopelessness. I will keep my children from killing themselves and each other but the rest is just so much extraneous fluff. I briefly considered cleaning the house today but that can wait til the kids move out. If I've gotten them to that point, I haven't completely failed.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Holy freaking crap, it's snowing!

It has snowed for the past three days. I have awoken each of those mornings to a landscape increasing in white-fluffiness and winter wonderlandishness. At first, a mere skiff. A light dusting, if you will. The next day, a larger blanket of glittering whiteness. And today, possible blizzard conditions and enough snow to sneak into your shoes if you're not smart enough to wear boots. I have encountered a few people in these past three days and most of them have made remarks about the "ridiculous" amount of snow and how it's "crazy" and how the cold is just "insane." And each time I have heard these remarks I have had to restrain myself from gripping the speaker by the shoulders in order to shake him/her vigorously and exclaim "THIS IS MONTANA! MONTANA! IN WINTER! WHAT DO YOU EXPECT?!?!?!" Instead, I just nod and mumble something vaguely resembling agreement while I slowly back away from these clearly unstable individuals.

Thankfully, though, I haven't encountered the full-fledged panic-induced nuttiness that we encountered in Washington when snow dared to fall from the sky. Admittedly, though, snow in Washington is a little scarier than Montana snow because it's wetter and has a tendency to immediately become black ice upon meeting the ground. However, there are ways to deal with this without checking your sanity at the door before you head out to work. It seemed like the prevailing opinion was that the snow would be less scary if you made your way through as quickly as possible. My trips to and from work on those few snowy occasions were harrowing, white-knuckle adventure rides as I made my way through and among the speeding metal wheeled death projectiles. It was nearly enough to make me find religion. Nearly.

I'm not afraid of the snow here nor do I find it "crazy", "ridiculous", or "insane". During my family's first winter in Montana (when I moved here as a kid), we had FOUR FEET of the stuff keeping the town from functioning at full capacity. Every winter since has seen wimpier and wimpier snow falls. Last winter was barely deserving of the name. When you live in Montana, snow in winter is not scary. NO snow in winter, however, is a problem. It pretty much guarantees that the state will burst into flames during the summer. My only complaint is that our stupid fireplace chose this week to stop working. Stupid effing fireplace...

Something else that I find kind of amusing is Benjamin's insistence that he loves snow even though evidence suggests otherwise. Every morning he has gasped wide-eyed at the snow and announced that we have to go outside to play in it. All through breakfast he babbles excitedly about going out to play in the snow. When I haul out the boots and coats, he squeals with delight and claps his hands and sings about going to play in the snow. He eagerly allows me to stuff his feet into his boots and bundle him up in his coat, hat, and gloves. He stomps his feet in barely restrained glee by the door. Then, we go outside and he's so happy! He kicks the snow around! He picks it up and hurls it at my face! He delights in his footprints.

For 15 minutes.

At that point, he switches gears entirely. He crams his hands into his pockets and looks completely stricken once he realizes that it is cold outside. I begin to see the first traces of panic as he notices that the snow is melting on his pants and getting them all, gasp, wet! He is not having fun anymore. Snow is not his friend. Snow is ruining his life. He tells me that we have to go back inside now. Ethan, meanwhile, has thrown himself spread-eagle into a snow drift and is quite pleased. So I gather up my snow-covered youngest son and we head back to our home. And all the while Ben is whimpering and Ethan is thrashing for all he's worth. Once inside, all Ben can think of is how to get warm rightnow and he starts stripping off his wet clothes while demanding "new pants, mama! New ones!!!" What really gets me is that he manages to completely forget his misery and we go through this again the next day. And the next. And the next.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Mommy, dearest

I have dropped the ball. I have dropped it and it has rolled into the gutter and on down the street into traffic. I have lost the ball. I have lost it so completely that I'm not even sure that I had it in the first place.

I don't know what I've been doing with myself. Actually, I do know but I'm terribly ashamed. I have been wasting time. Lots and lots of time. I have not been doing anything of any value or meaning. I stay up way too late, I get up way too late, I feed the kids, I break up fights, I feed 'em again, I break up more fights, I feed 'em some more, I break up the last fights I'm willing to put up with and then the kids go to bed. Of course, there are some smatterings of happy times in there. I play with cars, I color with the boys, I tickle them, I read stories but I know deep in my heart that I am falling drastically short of being the mother they deserve. Ben needs to see a speech therapist and I'm positive it's my fault that he's not speaking at an age-appropriate level. I have tried on several occasions to sit down with him and teach him sight words and how to write the alphabet but he gets frustrated and I get frustrated and then we give up. I shouldn't give up.

We are all terribly tired of each other. I know that it is completely horrible for me to say that I grow tired of my kids, but it happens. It's very difficult to converse with them.

Ethan: Mama!!!
Me: Ethan?
Ethan: Thomas!
Me: Yes! That's your Thomas train.
Ben: Mama! Mama look at me!
Me: Ben, please don't jump on the couch.
Ethan: Mama!
Ben: Look at me!
Ethan: Mama!!
Ben: Look at me!
Ethan: MAMA!!!!!!!!!
Me: Ben, please stop climbing on the back of the couch!
Ethan: MAMAMAMAMAMAMAMAMAMA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Me: What, Ethan?!
Ethan: Thomas!

And so on and so forth. Ben tells me on a fairly regular basis that he wants me to go away and prefers to be with daddy. He also told me that he'd like a new mommy. Ethan tries to hit me in the face when I refuse to connect his trains together after I've already done so about two dozen times in the last five minutes. Having kids has taught me that I'm not as patient as I thought I was. It's a pretty nasty revelation. I'm basically a jerk. I love my kids so much but I'm having a lot of trouble with putting my own ego and my own needs away so that I can focus on my boys as much as I should. I have read so many quotes regarding how children are supposed to bring the best qualities out of their parents but Ben and Ethan pretty often get the worst of me. As I am losing my cool with them, there's a voice in my head that tries to get me to take deep breaths and calm down but the giant flailing octopus of anger gets its way most of the time.

To make matters worse, Ben is turning into a master when it comes to guilt trips. I will be at the end of my admittedly short rope and both boys will be climbing all over me, screaming in my ear, pulling on my clothes, and anything else they can think of to clamor for my attention. I'll be trying to read or hold a thought in my head while Ben calls "mama" with increasing volume and intensity. "What?!?!" I'll snap. And then Ben will look at me with wide blue eyes and his lower lip will tremble and he'll say "I just wanted to say I love you."

I can't escape the feeling that I need therapy and/or more medication to deal with this side of myself that I can't stand but takes the reigns so very often. And I also can't escape the feeling that I'm the world's biggest moron being this surprised that parenting is, you know, hard and stuff.