But this morning, I was THIS close to selling them to the circus. They could be clowns. Or a sideshow – Step right up! Watch the Brawling Boys! Catch a glimpse of the Moody Teenage Girls! It’s Ama-aaaaa-aaaaa-ZING! They can bicker and argue and fuss for 10 solid minutes without taking a breath! Step right up! See the socks that can stand up on their own because this boy has worn them for THREE solid weeks! Look, the magic jeans that can walk all by themselves because they have been worn Every.Single.Day. since before Christmas break! It’s Ama-aaaaa-aaaaa-ZING! Step right up! See the children frozen in ice because they refused to wear coats when it was 16 degrees outside with a dangerous windchill advisory! Notice the smug look frozen on the faces. That’s the look of a child who took off her coat, his coat, and left it in the car. That’s the look of a child who thought she won the argument. But, Ladies and Gentleman, she is FROZEN SOLID!
I love my children. I do. They’re good kids. I know they are. But there are still moments when I fantasize about inventing a discreet little shock collar system for children. And when I call them for dinner and they say, I’m coming! but then they keep on building with LEGOS or texting friends or waging war with Playmobil pirates or listening to a One Direction song while gazing starry-eyed at a Tiger Beat poster, I could push my magic button and ZAP! they’d feel a small shock. Not anything that would actually HURT them. Just a sort of scooting sock feet around the carpet while rubbing a balloon on your head static electricity buzz. Or maybe a teensy weensy bit more zapping than that.
Maybe it’s just because there are so MANY of them. But when I have to ask this one four times to pick up his hoodie from the dining room floor and that one three times to unload the dishwasher and this one twice to take out the trash and that one five times to please, for the love of all things holy finish his homework without my having to sit right beside him because I’m about to lose my ever-lovin mind!
And, really, do I have to keep reminding everyone about the 24-hour clothing rule?! An article of clothing may be worn for a maximum of 24 hours before we must put it in the hamper! This has been a rule since ThingThree was a tiny, red-headed preschooler and loved his Old Navy basketball jersey and shorts sooooo much, he wanted to wear them all day, sleep in them all night and then wear them again the next day — and on and on into infinity and beyond!
My children are smart and funny and usually very sweet. Most of the time, in public at least, they are well-mannered and courteous. They are often a blessing to their teachers and a good friend to their classmates (something I pray for them every morning). But lately so many small things have turned into big battles. Even the compliant ones have had to be reminded and reminded to complete chores. And then, they’ve had to re-do them because they weren’t done correctly! They have fought over LEGO pieces and video game turns and who stepped over the threshold of a sibling’s bedroom. Homework is a battle. Bedtime is a war.
Maybe it’s the up and down of the barometric pressure as weather systems blow in and out of our valley. Maybe it’s the crazy lack of routine as they had just settled back into school only to miss a day for snow and a day for Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday. Not that I’m blaming God for the snow or Dr. King for being born!
And I’m sure I’m part of the problem. I want to be patient and kind. I try! Honestly, I do. But then one of them growls – literally growls! – when I ask him to do his chore. Or one of them punches his brother. Or one of them absolutely ignores what I’ve said and chosen to do whatever she wants. And I lose it. I don’t have a magic button and a tiny jolt of electrical shock, but I’m sure my not-so-sweet-and-nurturing screeching at them serves the same person. ZAP! An ugly shock to their ears. To their hearts.
Oh, I love my children. And I won’t sell them to the circus. And I won’t actually zap them with teensy little jolts of electricity. I will continue to take deep breaths, apologize for my own losing it, crazy fire-breathing momma moments and move on to the next moment in grace.
But during this next week of THREE science fair projects and more snow in the forecast and all the usual busy schedule of activities and daily routine of life, if I disappear you can find me curled up in a fetal position in the corner of my bedroom, leaning against a massive mountain of unfolded laundry, rocking back and forth and dreaming about sunny summer days at the pool with children who are smiling and polite and would never, ever dream of growling at their mother.