I really thought that by now, the kids and I would be well into our Summer Routine. We are, indeed, if our routine is no routine whatsoever, and one or both of the following things may or may not have happened recently only I am totally not admitting anything:
A) We are lolling about at the library one afternoon, nary a care in the world, when my cell phone rings. It’s my ex, wanting to know where we are. I’m about to explain in detail why his question and his tone are unnecessary, when I realize why he’s calling. It’s his afternoon with the kids, Chickadee has Tae Kwon Do class to get to, and WE’RE NOT HOME. Because I’d spent the entire day thinking it was… some other day. (Bonus points if I then instructed my ex on how to BREAK INTO THE HOUSE to pick up Chickadee’s uniform!)
B) We are lolling about at home one morning, kids in their pajamas, me working at my computer and occasionally stopping to change the channel (oh marvelous magical babysitter television, how I do love you and your evil lure), when I look up and realize that it’s 1:00. And the kids are still in their jammies. “Does anyone want some lunch?” I try to stay casual, but my cover is blown when Chickadee confesses she never had any BREAKFAST.
Where is my Mother of the Year Award??
On the flip side, despite the more-than-ample proportion of dreary, rainy days, there are whole MINUTES at a time when the children do a splendid job of staying busy and out of trouble. I mean, yes, there was the day I came home and discovered that the sitter had allowed them to use an entire roll of tape. And did you know that GOO (yes, that’s what it’s called) really just doesn’t work all that well in the Fuzzy Pumper Barber Shop? GO FIGURE. But on the whole, they’ve been okay. I haven’t heard “I’m booo-ooored” yet.
Things I HAVE heard:
“She punched me.”
“I didn’t do it.”
“I don’t know what happened.”
“Yes, I DO think the maid will clean it up for me. YOU BE THE MAID, MAMA!”
“Want me to fart on you?”
“Give it or I’m telling.”
… and my absolute all-time favorite…
“MAMA! I have SNOPE in my nose!”
This was quickly corrected to what Monkey was TRYING to say, which was “some soap” concatenated down to “snope,” somehow, but hearing this shouted out to me from the other side of the shower curtain was somehow the highlight of my week. We started giggling and haven’t really stopped, since.
For him, I suppose the hilarity lies in the effect the word has on me. For me, I just got this crystal-clear mental image of my skinny son dispensing little paper scrolls from his nose like those horoscope machines you still sometimes see at low-budget stores. Each scroll could be unrolled to reveal a fantastical tale of someone else’s horror. Perhaps he could tell you—between bites of pop-tart—about how some kid was dragged into the bathroom at Walmart and her head was shaved and the kidnapper got her out of the store in a wig and it’s RILLY RILLY TRUE because he knows someone whose aunt’s cousin’s uncle’s best friend’s boyfriend’s sister knows the person that it happened to! Also, do not blink your headlights at gang members, because they will follow you home and kill you!
How do I know? I found out from the boy with SNOPE IN HIS NOSE!
(Also, seriously: What is with this child and his nose, anyway? Sheesh.)
Anyway, that has now become a cheerful greeting of sorts, as well as a great way to pass the time. When Monkey climbed into my bed this morning at 6:30, I asked him if he had any snope in his nose, and he giggled and insisted that I had snope in my nose, and I said that he shouldn’t be silly, because I obviously have MINCEMEAT in my nose, and by the way, I’m pretty sure I can see some snope in your ear, there, Kid.
Chickadee is not so on board with the Snope Revolution, but at least she’s having the sort of growth spurt that renders a child gangly and unsteady like a baby deer, coupled with the mild temperment of an hungry bear. Yeah. (If this is any indication of what PMS is going to be like for her, you can find me in my nice, dry basement… HANGING MYSELF.) She is mouthy and surly and determined to attach herself to me, leech-like, while I try to decide whether it would be best to twist her head off clockwise or counter.
We are both alarmed by how she is suddenly all knees and elbows and elongated feet that fit into her new boat-sized sneakers. After some transgression or another, she tries to curl up in my lap, and has to fold herself tightly to avoid dangling off the edge of the chair. My sense is that a lot of this recent defiance springs from a definite opinion on this whole growing up thing (Resolved: fight it with all her might), and she makes it clear that she needs me not a whit until AFTER punishment is meted out, and then she’s all apologies and leech behavior.
This held true even after I’d plucked the last juice box out of her hands (and the straw out of her mouth) and handed them to Monkey and left her juiceless (I’d okayed juice boxes as long as there were TWO, and she ran for the last one and tried to suck it down while Monkey stood there pointing and sputtering), and also after I’d taken away her Library Treasure Map (used to keep track of summer reading, and redeemable at various points for prizes) for locking Monkey in her room while he pummelled the door and cried to leave.
[Yes, I just confessed to taking away my child’s reading list as a punishment. When she’s really bad, I institute a total ban on learning of any kind and instead plug her directly into Nintendogs and tell her to stay there until she forgets how to wipe herself.]
So each event went through the predictable cycle of denial, rage, contrition, and ending with her attached to my body in some way. At one point she’d clambered onto my desk chair and was hanging over my shoulder while Karen and I instant-messaged about shoe shopping. Karen was kind enough to show me a pair of shoes with an outrageous price tag, followed up by an all-caps statement of her opinion of said shoes.
I quickly scrolled her comment off the screen, away from alert little reading eyes, by typing periods and carriage returns until not a trace of this commentary remained.
“Mama, what are you DOING?” Chickadee quizzed me.
“I’m, uh, just clearing the screen. Do you think you could get down, now?” Her arms tightened around my waist, while her chin dug into my shoulder.
“No. But WHY did you do that?”
I sighed. “Because there’s a SPYING LITTLE LEECH attached to me who doesn’t need to be reading my conversations, that’s why.” She released one arm from my waist and slung it around my shoulders, instead. Then she pushed up a bit, to get closer to the screen.
“Did she say something BAD?” If the force of her will alone could’ve scrolled the conversation back into view, I think she could’ve done it.
“Well, she said something you don’t need to read,” I conceded.
“Oh!” She crowed, bouncing slightly on the chair, “Does it rhyme with DUCK?”
I tried to squelch the giggles that threatened to spill out. “No,” I told her, turning around and gathering up all of her limbs and removing her from the chair and dropping her onto the nearby couch, “It rhymes with SNOPE.”
That was totally a justifiable white lie, even if only because she’s still trying to figure it out.