Samantha is sent out of the room Josh is working in.
“Oh, wait. Here, Daddy. I made this for you. It’s a “How to Color with Your Eyes Blindfolded” coloring kit. Oh, look! It has scissors.”
Ten seconds later, she’s back at the door. She desperately pleads for re-entry, “But Daddy, I want to see you use your kit!”
“Fine, I’m leaving. But don’t forget, when you use your kit, you have to be blindfolded!”
Gifts with strings attached. I can’t wait to watch him use it, either.
I woke up feeling feisty this morning, daring even, despite nearly a week of severely fragmented sleep, dealing with a toddler made psychotic with teething pain.
I merrily announce that we’ll be having blueberry muffins for breakfast. Samantha is ecstatic, ready to be my helper. We’ll have a mother-daughter bonding experience.
My blueberry muffins are a recipe of my own creation, a high protein super food national magazines should feature on their covers. It is tailored exactly to the tastes of my children, down to their preferred textures and colors. It is optimized for maximum child nutrition. It creates only half a sink of dirty dishes. It doesn’t take long to make.
It doesn’t take long, that is, until the delays begin to slowly rack up. A spill here. A tussle there. An ingredient lost. The children are getting hungrier and hungrier. Their behavior is increasingly chaotic and irrational. With the increased noise and movement, my brain is getting fuzzier and fuzzier. Each step in the baking process is taking longer and longer.
By the time I’m spooning the batter into the muffin cups, the kitchen is a surreal scene. Simon is angrily shouting “BUT I TOLD YOU!” about something to do with the muffin cups. Samantha is walking in tight little circles, repeating, “What’s my next job? What’s my next job? What can I do next, Mama? What now, Mama?” The toddler is wrapped tightly around my leg. He is pressing his face against my jeans over and over again, then looking up at me and cackling. My lack of reaction is making him try harder and harder, until I finally figure out that he is attempting, with increasing success, to bite me.
I am the only adult in the house.
I understand how Valium became known as “mother’s little helper.”
Samantha commands, “Daddy, let’s play a rhyming game!”
Joshua obliges, “Okay.”
Samantha sets the rules, “I’ll go first.”
She starts: “Bliss.”
Joshua responds easily, “Kiss.”
Samantha challenges, “Lipstick.”
Joshua doesn’t miss a beat, “Sedgewick.”
The game pauses. “Sedgewick isn’t a real word!”
“Yes, it is. It’s a city.”
Samantha doesn’t waste any time arguing. She launches back into the game. “Hodgewog.”
The game pauses again. “Umm … what is a hodgewog?”
Samantha smiles. “It’s an imaginary animal that lives in that town you just made up.”
Samantha is in the other room, plinking out her first rendition of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. It is our duty as her parents to listen avidly, even though we’re busy in another room.
We are enthusiastic supporters! “WOOT WOOT! Play it! Play it! WOOT! WOOT! Play it! Play it!”
Samantha starts playing, but her Daddy and I might be getting a little carried away. “WOOT WOOT! Play it! Play it! WOOT! WOOT! Play it! Play it!”
Her beautiful little five year old voice lilts from the piano room, “I would be HAPPY if you STOP!”
Samantha comes back to me in the kitchen from carrying a message to her dad in another room, and airily declares, “Well, I didn’t tell him what you told me to tell him. I had something betterer to say.”
“Okay. What did you tell him?”
“I told him that I loved him SO MUCH!” It’s her story telling tone, the one usually reserved for tales of unicorns and princesses.
“Alright. What did he say?”
“He said he likes me so much, too. He said he likes me so much, he said, “Samantha, I like you so much, too. I like you so much I’m about to cry a little.” She isn’t even looking at me, she’s so wrapped up in the drama of her story, and her sweet daddy’s tears.
I answer, eyebrows up, “Is that really what he said?”
She sighs, “Oh. I don’t know. I don’t really remember what he said.”
And then she scowls, because I am wiping tears out of my eyes, and trying not to hurt myself with the chopping knife from giggling too much. She stomps out.
Samantha is playing in the living room. She overhears a snippet of me asking Seth about the green beans he is eating in the kitchen. She hears just enough to misunderstand.
“Momma! Why are you calling Seth a green bean?”
I don’t feel like explaining her error to her. “Because I thought it would be funny.” I instantly regret saying that.
She answers back, “Well, it’s not funny. It’s just not!”
She is not a fan of nicknames.
It’s been a long day. As I finish up my shower, Samantha is sitting on the bathroom floor, entertaining her baby brother.
Sensing that play time is getting short, she starts fiddling with the door. “Uh oh. The door is stuck. It won’t open!”
I am not in the mood, but I try. “Oh no. We will be trapped in here forever.”
She grins, “Sure looks like it!”
“Well, at least we have fresh water to drink, and a potty to use.”
She nods, supplying cheerfully, “And shampoo for our hair!”