As Chris noted earlier today, it has been Hot ’round here. Very Very Hot. Too Hot To Play Outside Hot.
I never realized there was such a thing as Too Hot To Play Outside, but there really is. I was driving back from some errands (oh, blessed babysitter: how I do love thee) this morning and heard on the radio that—in addition to being So Very Hot outside—we were having a day of dangerously high ozone levels, and so it was recommended that all children, elderly, pets, and anyone who likes to breathe oxygen stay inside as much as possible.
[This, by the way, confuses me. First, isn't there a troublesome hole in the ozone layer? But we have TOO MUCH ozone? Can't we just use it to plug up the hole? Second, why is there LESS ozone inside my house? Do I have an Ozone Filtration System? Do I need to put rock salt into it periodically?]
Anyway, I listened to the people on the radio and came home determined to keep my precious offspring inside for the rest of the day. Because I love them and want only the very best for them, and felt that an afternoon of me screaming “PICK UP THIS MESS RIGHT NOW!” and five or six hours of Cartoon Network would nourish their budding souls as nothing else could.
I kid, of course. Five or six hours of Cartoon Network only happens when someone has a fever or is puking. I let them watch an additional hour of television and then spent the rest of the day telling them to
1) clean up,
2) stop running,
3) don’t throw in the house,
4) cease sitting on your sibling’s head,
5) FOR THE LOVE OF GOD ALMIGHTY JUST KNOCK IT OFF.
(Yes, it was a special brand of nurturance that can only come from a day of 99 degree temps and dangerously high levels of ozone.)
(Also, Sunday’s sermon at church was about not taking the name of the Lord in vain. So far I’m doing REALLY WELL, I think. For my next trick, I plan to make french toast with the Communion bread, and also to use GODDAMNED ARTIFICIAL SYRUP.)
Anyway. By the time dinner rolled around, we were all hot, cranky, and bored. Also, hungry. Well, I thought we were all hungry. Maybe that was just me.
My simmering pan of taco beef was greeted with “Mama, something SMELLS!” and then “Wow, that looks like worms.” So I knew dinner was going to be… challenging. But I soldiered on. Because I hear that when all else fails, the hole in the ozone layer can be plugged with salsa.
Monkey hadn’t eaten any lunch. I knew this because his plate from lunch was sitting on the table, completely untouched, from earlier. Upon questioning I was informed that he Just Wasn’t Hungry. Okay. Skipping a meal isn’t going to kill the kid.
But now it was dinner and he was twirling his plate and blowing bubbles in his milk and by all appearances planning not to eat, yet again. “Monkey,” I implored, “boy can not live by pop-tart alone!” He furrowed his brow at me. “I mean, you NEED TO EAT SOMETHING.” He extracted a single cheese shred from his tortilla and nibbled it.
Meanwhile, Chickadee was rearranging her taco innards with laser precision. Incorrectly assembled tacos! Just another service I offer! Clearly she couldn’t partake until the matter had been remedied.
And so I sat at the table, enjoying my tacos, between my two children. On my left, Monkey made his shred of cheese last about ten minutes. On my right, Chickadee sculpted and swirled and then took gigantic bites that sprayed ground beef across her plate, the table, the floor, and possibly that hole in the ozone layer.
Finally I gave up. “Monkey. You didn’t eat a bite of lunch. Now you’re not eating dinner. If you’re not going to eat, you’re going to take a shower and go to bed, because I am going to have to assume that you’re sick.” To my surprise, Monkey hopped down from his seat and headed upstairs for a shower without a word of complaint.
And then I wondered if he really was sick.
While I got him going upstairs—he is a self-sufficient showerer except for adjusting the water, which I’m still teaching him how to do—he commented that the last time he took a shower, Chickadee helped him squeeze the soap out of the bottle. I said that was fine, but that he could do it himself this time. I then went down to my room to grab something I’d just thought of, before heading back downstairs.
I then heard Chickadee in the bathroom, DEMANDING that Monkey tell her WHAT HE SAID about her. “Are you GETTING ME IN TROUBLE by telling Mama something??” she hissed through the shower curtain. Monkey assured her he wasn’t, but she was not appeased. “I HEARD YOU,” she continued. “And I’m going to GET YOU if I get in trouble.”
“CHICKADEE!” She dragged her heels down the hall to my room. “Did I just hear you THREATENING your brother? For YOUR INFORMATION he was telling me that you had HELPED HIM. And you’re all up here with your NASTY ATTITUDE giving him a hard time. LEAVE. HIM. ALONE.” She glared at me and left the room.
Not a minute later, I heard from the bathroom:
“I am still going to get you if you said something you shouldn’t’ve.” Monkey began to cry.
It was at this point that I decided that any “getting” would be done by me.
I called the girl child back to my room and words were said and hands were waved and in very short order she was flying down the hallway in hysterics, STILL SASSING ME over her shoulder as she went.
So I followed her to her room and smothered her with a pillow. Or maybe just continued my diatribe about how when your behavior is ugly people won’t want to be around you, blah blah blah blah, think before you act, consider before you speak, BE A GOOD PERSON, STOP DRIVING ME INSANE….
You know. All the essential lessons.
Of course, all SHE heard was “You are bad.” (No, I didn’t say that. I never say that. But in addition to being a gigantic pain in the ass, Chickadee is also very sensitive. So she will rip out your heart with her tiny talons and snack on it while cackling, but then sob piteously when you point out that she’s not being very nice, because NOW YOU ARE BEING MEAN TO HER.)
The hysterics continued and I threw up my hands. “Go take a shower. You’re done. You’re going to bed.” The paint started peeling off the walls as her wails turned to shrieks.
“IT’S IN THE SIXES!!” (It was 6:40ish, when this was happening.) “IT’S TOO EARLY TO GO TO BED! I CAN’T GO TO BED IN THE SIXES, I CAN’T! IT’S STILL LIGHT OUT!” I reiterated my edict and was treated to the piece de resistance of her rebuttal:
“IIIIIIIIIIIIII AAAAAAAAAAAAAM NOOOOOOOOOOOT TIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIRED!”
I am really looking forward to her Oscar acceptance speech.
She thrashed her way into the shower while a very tired Monkey finished getting ready for bed and then demanded that I come kiss him and tuck him in. I asked him if he was planning on EATING tomorrow and he assured me that he would. When he was less tired. He snuggled down into his pillow and bid me goodnight.
Meanwhile, Chickadee was out of the shower, her wet hair was dripping everywhere, and she was still crying so hard that every sob caused her ribcage to jerk several inches into the air in front of her. She needed just ONE MORE CHANCE, MAMA because it was TOO EARLY TO GO TO BED and (of course) she WAS NOT TIRED.
We had a brief discussion about making choices and recovering from bad choices and how tomorrow would be a better day. As I got up from her bedside to leave her room, she wailed anew.
“YOU DIDN’T HUG MEEEEEEEEEEEE!”
I. had. JUST. hugged. her. “Chickadee. I just hugged you.”
“No you DIIIIIIIDN’T!!”
“Sweetie, this is what I mean about making bad choices. It’s fine to say you’d like another hug. It’s not fine to accuse me of not hugging you when I JUST HUGGED YOU. That’s not truthful and it’s combative and it’s not a good choice.”
“BUT YOU DIDN’T!”
“CHICKADEE. I DID HUG YOU. STOP IT.”
“But I don’t understand!”
“You… don’t understand hugging? Oooookay. Here’s another hug. And now I’m ALL DONE. And so are you. Good night!”
I thought I was free, but not 10 minutes later there was more wailing. This time from Monkey’s room. I took the stairs two at a time and burst into his room.
“What’s the matter??”
He was sitting up in bed, pointing at his clock, sobbing as though his heart had been smashed. “We… we… WE’RE MISSING FOCKSTERS!!” It was a new episode, tonight. Missing it was highly traumatic. I assured him that I’d taped it, and he lay back down, sniffing back tears.
I got him settled and emerged from his room to find Chickadee standing there, helpfully suggesting that if they went downstairs RIGHT NOW, they could probably catch the last half of the show. I countered with my own helpful suggestion, which was that if she got her little butt back to bed post haste I might not kill her right there in the hallway.
For AN HOUR they took turns getting up, or hollering out some important thought or another (“I just remembered I didn’t have any of that ice cream today… WAAAHHHHH!”). Eventually, all was quiet.
I IMed briefly with Karen about my evening and she listened and then pointed out the obvious: “Well, this is why you should DRINK.” (I got myself a big glass of water, but I’m telling you, it DIDN’T HELP.)
I don’t have any idea what we’re having for dinner tomorrow night. But I CAN tell you that it will NOT be tacos.