A crisp glass of chardonnay sits aside my mouse as I take the first deep breath the whole day. It has been one of those days where I feel as if a piano has landed on my chest and if I move ever so slightly, it may crush me. And yes, it is nearly 11:00 pm at night.
Audrey coming off an epic weekend of dramatic encounters of the third kind, was still in the midst of trying to control those nearly five-year old emotional outbursts. Before I had a chance to take a sip of my lukewarm coffee this morning, we had endured screams about having to wake-up, her toast was cut into four squares instead of two triangles and then I made the mistake of asking her to get dressed to leave for school. Both girls seemed to have left their listening ears off as they sauntered downstairs albeit dressed and proceeded to ignore the hot breakfasts I had placed on the kitchen table in favour of discussing when spring would arrive and planning where to place their newly acquired fairy door.
Raised voices later, as I tried to get Jacob ready hoping the girls would rally and get behind me in conquering Monday morning, they proceeded to argue over something. Elizabeth fully dressed egging on her younger sister and distracting her. Exasperated with both of them, I pulled the zippers down on their knapsacks, removed the popcorn money I had carefully placed in their knapsacks and envelopes containing their Scholastic book orders the night before and informed they as of right now, they had lost all such luxuries until such a time I saw a huge improvement in their listening abilities.
Finally with all three bundled in the van, Audrey was ten minutes late for school. The ever calm Ms. M (best ECE teacher ever) took my crying girl inside nodding as I explained she was upset as she lost her popcorn money for the day. Calmly explaining that Mommy was right, she had made poor choices in her behaviour that morning, she smiled at me telling me it was okay to leave. Kissing Audrey’s sweaty curls, I told her I loved her and I was going to be at the school volunteering later that morning (for popcorn day actually) and I would check in with her then. She did not even look at me.
After another lecture to Elizabeth en route to her school on the importance of listening in the mornings and not bothering her siblings on the way to her school, she nodded solemnly saying, “Yes Mommy. You’re right Mommy.” like a robot on auto-repeat.
Debating whether an automated response system was better than actual emotion, I chose to let things be and finally with Jacob’s little voice echoing in the quieter van, “my turn?” I took him to his school where after many “hold me tight!” proclamations I finally made it to my volunteer position at Audrey’s school.
From that moment forward, the rest of the day sped by with delivering popcorn, rushing home to put the crock pot dinner on, picking up Jacob, lunch, nap and domestic chores while packing up skating items and prepping Jacob’s snacks and dinner for the babysitter.
Yes, a babysitter! After many searches, we are trying out a successful candidate who did not run at my rambunctious bunch and seems to be a very kind, patient and general good person. She also does not charge an exorbitant amount. (See Desperately Seeking Resonably-Priced Babysitter) Booking her Monday nights for the next couple of months while I take the girls skating seemed to be a lightbulb idea. The last few weeks taking Jacob have been nothing less than exhausting, manageable but exhausting keeping him away from random skate blades and ruining his attempts to get onto the rink yelling, “my turn!”
Catching up with Mr. L after the house is tidied, everything is prepped for the next day, dishes are finally done and lunches packed I relayed a rather elaborate story Elizabeth had shared in the van on the way to skating about a possible bullying incident on her bus. Concerned as this was her second time brining up being picked on by older boys, at the time I reminded to use her “Stop it! I don’t like that!” phrases, then tell an adult and finally that perhaps a note to the bus company/driver and Vice-Principal at her school would be a good idea. She resisted the idea coming up with her own plan on how to deal with the issue. Letting it sit for a bit, I checked the information to discuss with Mr. L later to get his input. Right away he seemed suspicious.
“How does she colour on the bus?” he asked.
Thinking for a minute, it dawned on me. Heading to our mud room to look into her knapsack, there was no paper or pencil crayons (or anything to draw with) both items that had been integral to her story. It appeared as if I had been duped.
“Wow,” I said to Mr. L returning to the kitchen. “She may have made it all up.”
Expressing our mutual concern over this new information, we decided to question her in the morning on where was the artwork she had been diligently working on seated in a bumpy bus. But part of me felt a little betrayed by my eldest daughter. If she had lied, not only had she made up an elaborate untruth, but could have potentially and inadvertently (as I do not believe she thought out the repercussions of such a lie) had me storming to her school’s office demanding they address the bully issues on her bus. Bullying is a serious issue and one which should not be taken lightly. Foolishly I had believed she had listened when we and her school had discussed bully issues. Well, perhaps she listened too well to the stories.
Mr. L although gravely concerned about her possibly lying, he was more concerned about the “Boy who cried wolf” factors rather than the lie itself.
“After all,” he proclaimed, “I lied as a kid all the time to get my parents attention and my Mom to fawn all over me.” Looking at him in shock and realizing you do indeed learn new things about your partner all the time, I huffed back,
“Well, I never did that!”
So, a glass of wine before bed tonight seems warranted as I marvel at the wonder of parenting and all that we have to manage. Tantrums, emotions and even tall tales. Learning how to tune into one child and manage them to attempting to teach another a very important moral lesson all while fighting a two-year old to put back on the shirt he has somehow managed to pull down to his hips because he is “too hot!”