Okay, I confess that I’m starting to feel a little…feral. I’m wanting to return to a more ‘normal’ routine for us. Today and tomorrow need to be housework days, because tomorrow ladies are coming here for dinner. Believe me, the house will still be a wreck no matter what I do in these 48 hours, but I have to try. (More on the state of our home and yard another day.) So, come Monday morning, I should (should!) be able to sit down with the kids and ask them what they want to do. I’m really looking forward to that. But I’m worried about this dinner, and when I’m worried I can be a horrible human being. So my focus will be on 1) limiting the horribleness as much as possible, 2) apologizing promptly and sincerely for every time I lose my temper, because it will happen.
So I wrote that this morning, and now, much much later I can report that I did lose my temper a couple of times. Once because Boy walked on the table pads that I had washed and were drying on a tarp in the drive (Just walked right over them! Argh!) and once because Boy let the dog out of the back yard with no leash. (Twice!) And I apologized. Sincerely. Explained what was going on with me, but also said that didn’t make it right to yell or grab Boy by the sweater. Which I did. Ugh.
Okay, so that’s the background of this day: Busy mom. Grouchy mom. Upsetting mom. Still the kids keep themselves busy all day. They do some neat things. They talk. They argue. They build and make things. They spin on the rope swing. They draw a lot.
When I wake up Boy is reading The New Way Things Work. Yesterday I heard him saying to Girl that he didn’t know how to build anything, because he didn’t actually understand how anything worked. I’ve been saving that damn book for him for six years, and practically ran to the bookshelf. So, now he’s reading it. Last night when I said good night to him he was on can opener. This morning was xerox machine or something.
At breakfast he talks a lot about TNT-ville, the town he wants to build in the Sahara. Well, I say town. I believe TNT-ville might more accurately be described as an industrial/military compound. Girl says she wants to build a place in the woods, far away from people. She wants to grow kale and broccoli and blueberries and oranges and frozen mango. (Adults eat greens. Adults like orange juice with pulp.)
Boy says he wants to build a monument in the woods near Girl’s place. Girl says he can’t. She torments him like that. But on the other hand, he does try to control/boss/micromanage/’help’ her. So I see her side. But then it comes out that she doesn’t know what a monument is.
“What’s a monument?” A monument is a special place that people build to think about someone or something, I say.
“Like the dead place where Jesus and God died?”
“The cemetery?” I ask. “Yes. Like that.” (Don’t ask how I know what she’s talking about. I can’t possibly explain.)
Boy says, “God never dies, [Girl]. Only Jesus died.”
“No! God died too! You don’t know!”
I think to myself, we really need to get them to church more. We did okay with Boy, but Girl…things she says are a little wince-inducing. Like the time she asked for the cross her grandparents had given her, calling it a “stick trophy.”
Later, Girl tries to tell us a joke, but Boy and I are engrossed in what we are doing, and we don’t laugh. Her own hopeful laugh trails off. And I know her feelings are hurt. Really hurt. She draws on both sides of a piece of paper. Fiercely. Scowling. Looks like she might cry. I leave her be. I make dinner. Papa takes Boy to soccer. I know he will have fun with his friends. He is starting to get the hang of soccer, and I know it feels good.
After they go, Girl and I take the dog for a walk in in the cool October almost-dark, holding hands all the way. When we get home I find the drawing and ask her about it. She tells me it’s a picture of everything that makes her sad. She says:
Everything that makes me sad: People ignoring me, I always come in last place, I don’t know how to build things, I’m a horrible writer, Sometimes Papa makes fun of me.
Oh, [Girl], I say. Oh, honey. I love you so much.
Because at the end of some days, what else is there really to say?