When school ended in May, I decided to save $2,000 on summer care and keep the kids home with me. How hard could it be? We have lots of parks, a neighborhood pool, museums, movies … I was pretty sure I could handle it. Mommas have been staying home with their kids for years. How hard could it be? I mean, really?
Well, turns out, it is really, really hard some days. Today has been one of those days. Little Son has become super whiney and mean to his sister. Bodacious has become a short teenager, complete with sighs and eyes that roll into the back of their sockets.
This morning, I let them have all the screen time they wanted until 11. It’s the easiest way for me to get breakfast cleared and lunch made and get at least one load of laundry put away. After lunch, they have to have some electronic-free time. I suggest reading, coloring, panting, playing with toys, everything I can think of. I am greeted with open hostility, a volley of tears and sighs. I send them to time out in their rooms, only to hear more screaming at each other. Damn that Jack and Jill bathroom. “She’s LOOKING at me!”
Someone, kick me please.
I next suggest some outside time. And by suggest, I mean, grab them by their little arms and force them onto the back patio. I even throw some flip flops out there for good measure, you know, in case they want to walk around some in the back yard. It is beautiful outside, it’s not eve 90 yet. There is a soft breeze blowing and the entire yard is shaded. I turn and lock the back door.
Then I run as fast as I can to the sliding glass door and lock it, too.
They give me the stink eye. They give the trampoline a dismissive glance. I watch them through the blinds. I know that if they just get 10 lousy minutes of fresh air and sunshine they will feel better and act sweeter. But they are not going to make it easy.
I finish cleaning the kitchen counters and notice the girl is jumping happily on the trampoline. The boy is standing at the sliding glass door sobbing that he is hungry. People. He just ate. There is no way he is hungry. I am arguing with an 8-year-old through a glass. I start to worry that our neighbors will hear… .
Then I notice he is taking a long look at the dog door, wondering if his skinny little butt will fit through it. I lock the dog door. And take his picture. Now he’s mad, but at least he isn’t crying.
The girl is red-faced and pounding on the back door, and the 10 minutes is up. I put bread, peanut butter, spoons and plates on the counter. If they’re hungry, he can make sandwiches. Instead he goes to his room. Now, he’s groaning in pain about something. Maybe he fell off the bed. Or got stuck between it and the wall. Again. Maybe he is super annoyed that I expect him to make his own sandwich. It is hard to know sometimes, but my plan is to ignore him until I hear sobbing.
Bodacious gets out the crayons and a ream of paper, she’s ready to make placemats. Little Son has somehow dragged his now-seemingly-shattered body next to the stairs and is quietly fake crying. Kick me again.
Bodacious is quick to forgive his morning behavior, much quicker than I, and she is very concerned for him. Apparently, his arms no longer can bend at the elbows and they really, really, really hurt. No, really.
Sister volunteers to make his lunch and begins to set up a make-shift table by the stairs. She brings him some paper and colors. Instead, I suggest he go back to bed to rest his injured limbs. Of course, I point out that he’ll have to crawl to get there because he lacks the arm strength to pull himself up.
Now he is crawling to his room on his knees, just a –crying and a-wiping away those tears. I tell him he has to stop wiping them because he is just aggravating the injured arm. Sister takes pity on him and tries cleaning his face before shoving him along the floors toward his bedroom.
I continue to type away. Hmmmm … what’s that I hear? They are laughing, and they are working together to somehow lift him onto the bed. Never gonna happen, but they are enjoying themselves! Even without a game controller.
Miracles never cease! Here they are in the kitchen, making a PB&J together. Little Son smiles shyly. “Hey, Mom. I’m kind of having fun.”
“Yes, Little Son. I noticed. Thank you for helping make lunch, that is very kind of you.”
Well, well, well now. Turns out, I might be rocking this staying at home thing after all.