Friday, February 10, 2012

If This Job Doesn't Kill Me...

If these prized toys aren't taken away as a consequence of sibling bullying, I don't know what will.

There's a million-dollar question that I dread getting when Boy walks through the door--the time of day varies, but lately it's been around 7 p.m. I'd almost rather him come home three hours later because by then, he's too worn out to ask me questions. Kidding.

"How was your day?"

"Fine." is my response. He never accepts fine; he's too conversational to stop at fine. Fine? Why isn't fine good enough?

"What's wrong." It's a statement, not a question. What I hate more than my inability to camouflage my feelings is his way of detecting the budding of a little white lie from the intonation of my voice.


I know, I know, such a female thing to say. Nothing is always something. It's a deflected response. But I say this because nothing represents something that will require wordy explanations and too much emotion. I avoid emotion at all costs, and I will gladly take a pass--when I can--to smooth over my disguised emotional mess.

Armed with his passive interrogation skills, Boy gets his answer because he can draw anything out of me. A steel cage, I am not.


"The homemaker has the ultimate career. All other careers exist for one purpose only--and that is to support the ultimate career."  
--C.S. Lewis

My motherly routine these days is mind-numbing. At the end of the day from what feels like a Tug-of-War marathon, my mind and my body is in the final stages of atrophy. All of the pulling and tugging makes me yearn for something (such as what remains of my brain) to explode so that I can get fired up on the resulting adrenaline. Am I cut out for this job? A question for the jury. Just when I think it's torture enough to have to talk every moment of the day, I'm forced to listen to my voice on a broken record as well.

     It's time to get dressed. Could you come here, please? You're not following directions. Why are you running away from me? [Pause...] I'm waaaaaiting. 

     My two-year-old's response? "I'm funny, Mom."

     Forks and spoons are used for food, not for banging on my table. Hey, did you hear me? That's enough. What did I say? Stop! I said STOP!

     His response? "Be happy, Mom."

     Hey! Wouldn't 'cha like to sit on the toilet? Let's go! You're a big boy now.

     His response? "I don't want to. I'm not a big boy."

     How many times do I have to repeat to you? When your sister is crying that means she doesn't like what you're doing to her. You should probably stop. Stop! Now! I'm serious!

     His response? "I'm serious!" (imitating me in the gruffest voice a two-year-old can produce)

     I'm sorry, sweetie. I know you want that ice cream, but we're not buying that today. Could you please sit back down?

     His response? "Pleeeeease! Mom, I said please! I'm sad. I'm SAD, Mom!" (His red-faced pleas are done with full out screaming and snot-flailing down the grocery aisle.)

Reminiscing this dialogue makes me cringe. If I were to trade voices with Ann Curry or Alicia Keys, I wouldn't hate talking so much or hearing the sound of my own voice. And if I were Alicia, I would sing out my parental guidance. All. Day. Long.


Earlier this week, as I was busying about the house gathering library books, Indy's coat, car keys, and an elastic band to smooth my hair into a ponytail, I warned my son that if he didn't get his socks and shoes, he would stay home. It's a false threat, of course, but it worked every time until one day last month.

"I'm leaving! I guess you're not coming to the library. If you can't follow directions, you're going to have to stay home."

After my announcement, I head out the door, click the button to open the garage door, and buckle Indy into her car seat.

"Okay, Mom. Bye!"

I slowly back out the car, making eye-contact with him, while he stands at the doorway watching me. No pouting. No tears. No running up to the car. He's testing me, I thought. I stop the car. My threat has finally backfired: he has won.

So, when I make the threat this time, it's said absentmindedly. My laziness and repetitive nature forgets that this tactic no longer works. As I'm pulling hair through the elastic in my hands, I hear his feet swiftly thumping down the hard floors of the kitchen accompanied with the roaring sound of a truck being pushed along. He bursts into my bedroom and his big red fire truck rolls in and stops at my feet, almost giving my ankles a kiss. I look down, and nestled on top of the fire truck's white ladder, was a pair of white socks.

I could have cried. The trumpet fanfare of Rocky's theme song was fitting for that very moment.

I smothered him with kisses, praised him for following directions, and got ourselves to the library for storytime ON TIME.

Tender mercies happen when they're needed the most. And oh, how it was needed. (Read this talk.) When a husband unexpectedly comes home from work early and shows up with a bouquet of fresh flowers, oh how that is needed too.

It's amazing how flowers can make one feel valued and appreciated.