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.
Josh and I are discussing pizza. It is a great weekend treat for him, but I have to admit, “I don’t really like pizza.” It is an age-old debate between the two of us, but this time, someone was listening in.
Samantha pipes up from the room adjacent. “Mom, have you even TRIED pizza? I have, and I really enjoy it!”
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.”
Silence and peace. Samantha and Seth are eating. Simon is in the shower.
I am standing over the sink, eating lunch, staring out the window into a beautifully sunny day, pondering the mysteries of life in this tiny slice of mental space.
Seth moves from stuffing his belly to deconstructing his lunch, crumbling his biscuit into the floor, and rubbing the slice of turkey in it on his chest.
Simon appears in the kitchen door, water sluicing down his stark naked little self.
He grins at me, as the water mixes with Seth’s crumbs. “I left foot prints.”
As I turn the faucet on, Simon appears at my elbow.
“What are you doing?”
I answer cheerfully, “I’m getting a glass of water, because I’m thirsty. What are you doing?”
He blurts out, cutting off the end of my question, “Why?”
I stare at him, unsure of the answer he wants to hear.
He stares back at me, then gives me a maniacal laugh, and runs off.
I am no longer so certain that his daily, inexorable siege against my sanity is as innocently unintentional as I had thought.
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.”