A freelance assignment required me to log into WordPress, and in doing so I went poking around my long neglected blog. Found this unpublished gem from October 28, 2008. So for those of you playing along, that means David was 8, Cameron was 6, Justin was 3, and Alex was 1. Looking back I’m honestly not sure how I survived those days, four boys elementary school and younger, working full-time, sprinkled with some travel, I’m just amazed. This illustrates the frantic pace of those days, but mixed in are glimpses of the sweetness that sustained me.
Just another night.
5:00 p.m. The troops pile into the house, fresh from daycare. I’m in the middle of getting dinner together – chicken fried steak (that my mom pre-prepared and froze while she was here), salad, bread, macaroni and cheese, strawberries, and corn. Something for everyone, I hope.
5:08 p.m. Cameron has broken his brand new Harry Potter glasses and insists that I fix them with scotch tape. He’s oblivious to the fact that I am in the middle of dealing with dinner. I tell him he needs to be patient, and will have to wait until I have time. Barry asks what I’m making. I tell him, and get, “Eehhw. OLD steak? I don’t know about that.” I let out an audible sigh, and passive-aggressively slam the freezer door.
5:15 p.m. Alex is hanging on my leg, apparently ready to eat. I drain the macaronis, and since Alex is stuck on me like Velcro, I don’t want to walk the several steps to where the measuring cup is located, and just guess how much milk I need for the macaroni and cheese.
5:17 p.m. It dawns on me that Cameron and David are both in the house and accounted for, which means Justin is outside by himself. That’s not good. Barry goes out to get him.
5:18 p.m. “JEN!!!! Justin was in the car screwing around. Why didn’t you LOCK the door? Barry looks at the stove. What HAPPENED HERE???!!!” I tell him that some of the water from the mac and cheese had spilled over, and it’s not the end of the world. I slam some more doors. He tries to be funny and joke about something to disarm me as I am clearly irritated by his micro-management, and it’s not working. I get a glass of ice water for myself and serve everyone else.
5:20 p.m. “Jen, did you use too much milk in the macaroni and cheese? It’s kind of runny.” The door slamming is not having its intended effect. Maybe I should slam something harder, like his head.
5:21 p.m. Shockingly, Barry’s previous comment has consequences. “MOM!!! This macaroni and cheese is GROSS! I’m not eating this,” David announces.
5:25 p.m. Cameron finally disengages from the television and comes to dinner. He is informed that there is no more French dressing because he uses half a bottle of it every time he eats salad. There is much crying. After some sharp exchanges, he agrees to use ranch dressing. As soon as he sees it, he decides he doesn’t want it. Justin pipes up that he wants it, and starts eating Cameron’s salad more with his hands than his fork, and is troubled that they are all dirty. “I like this kind,” he says after I clean him off, “I dip carrots in it!” Barry manages to unearth a bottle of Catalina dressing from the depths of the fridge, which Cameron is convinced will not be as good. He takes a bite and it meets his approval. “Cameron likes it!!” Justin announces.
5:27 p.m. “Where’s MY water?” Barry asks. My slow burn continues.
5:28 p.m. “I want some strawberries.” “Cameron, the strawberries are all gone, you were busy throwing your fit about the salad.” “But Justin has strawberries.” “Justin, can Cameron have one of your strawberries?” “NO!” “I have grapes, Cameron, how about that?” “NO, it’s no FAIR, I wanted strawberries and Justin isn’t even eating his.” “Justin, if I give you grapes, can Cameron have your last strawberry?” “Yeah.”
5:30 p.m. “Here, A-wex, you wanna have some corn? MOM, move A-wex by ME!!!”
5:45 p.m. “We gonna make the Krespies?” “We will later.” “NO! I wanna do it NOW!!!” “No, we have to wait until we clean up. Why don’t you help clear off the table?” “Okay.” “No, that’s okay, Justin, you don’t have to help,” Barry says quickly to dismiss Justin’s gracious offer to help. “Justin, leave the chair alone. NO, we’re not doing the Rice Krispies now, just WAIT.” THUD! SCREAM! “Justin, breathe, just breathe. “WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!” “You’re okay.”
5:47 p.m. “I want my BEAR!!!!” “Cameron, go get Justin’s bear, it’s on his bed.”
5:48 p.m. “Mom, it’s not on there, I looked.” “Yes it is, I made his bed this morning and put his bear and his blanket on there.” “It’s not there.”
5:49 p.m. I exasperatedly go to look for Justin’s bear and find the bed torn apart. Justin’s blanket is there, but no bear. A minor search is initiated, after some questioning it’s assumed that Justin took his bear off the bed when he came home.
5:52 p.m. “Cameron, these glasses are completely broken, there is no way I can fix them. That’s what you get for not taking care of them.” “Yes you CAN fix them, just use the TAPE!!!” “No, it’s not going to work, they are completely unfixable.” “Just tape the side together! PLEEEASE!!!” “I can’t, you’ve completely ruined them.” There is much crying.
5:53 p.m. I spot two library books that are way overdue. One has a page that needs to be taped up. Cameron also has a library book from school that needs taping. Since I already have the tape out, I complete these tasks. There is also a National Geographic Kids magazine that is AWOL and I’m worried I won’t find it. David has a field trip to the library this week, and because I used David’s library card to check out Justin and Cameron’s overdue materials, he will be MORTIFIED if he goes to the library with his class and finds out that he can’t use it. I would never hear the end of it. So in a last ditch effort to find the magazine, I look through all the coloring books scattered about on the kids’ table and miraculously find it in a magazine rack underneath the table. “Justin, do you want to go return books to the library?” “Yeah!”
5:58 p.m. I have a sneaking suspicion there is one more book missing. I think it might be Curious George, but I’m not certain. I look under the bed. Amazingly I find it in the toy box. Not Curious George, but something about chocolate. I don’t remember reading that one.
6:01 p.m. Justin and I are off to the library. Justin is in the back “reading” the books to himself. “Once upon a time, there was a Chrissmas tree…hey guys…what are you doing? Come over here.” It’s so cute I can hardly stand it. I feel at peace for this five minute car ride. “There’s the pizza man!” “Black slug bug, I got it!” “No I got it!!” “Ok, you got it.” “You got da blue one.”
6:06 p.m. At the library I sign Justin up for his own library card and pay the $13.45 fine for McDuff’s New Home, Spicy Colors, National Geographic Kids, and whatever that chocolate book was. $13.45??? For the love of GOD! What happened to a nickel per day?
6:10 p.m. Justin heads to play with the trains and I poke around the kids books. Justin wants ME to play trains with him, but I’m bored with the trains and say, “Hey, do want to do the computer?” Bad idea. Now he’s messing with the computers but can’t find the Clifford game and just shuts it off. He keeps falling off the rolling desk chair and now the application won’t come back on without a password. We try a different computer, no luck. The library lady comes over and types in the password and I get him set up on Clifford. His headphones keep falling off, he doesn’t know how to click on the Clifford letters and keeps yelling out “MOOOMM!!” every two minutes while the library lady is trying to do storytime with all of the non-terrorist toddlers.
6:30 p.m. I ask Justin if he’d like to go home and make the Rice Krispie treats. That gets him out of the seat, but then he suddenly wants to go over and listen to stories with the other kids. We go over and he won’t sit by himself, I have to sit with him. He listens for awhile and when they finish a story I decide we can make a break for it. We almost get out and they start playing music, which piques his interest. So we stand there listening to “shake, shake, shake your sillies out” (which is still in my head today) and then finally go. I check out the books, but Justin would rather put his through the conveyor belt to return them. He has his head half stuck in there watching his book go down and wants to feed it more.
6:49 p.m. I drag Justin out of the library screaming and crying because he wants to put more books into the book drop.
6:58 p.m. Barely walk in the door. “Mom, didn’t you buy me my own Batman costume?” “No, David already has the Batman costume for Halloween, I said you could play with it after Halloween.” “But MOM, can’t I just try it on???” “Cameron, I’m busy right now, just hang on.”
7:02 p.m. Alex is in bed. He knows we are home. “JUSS-AN! JUSS-AN!!”
7:05 p.m. Justin insists on helping with Rice Krispie treats. I could never be a stay-at-home mom because one of the qualifications, I’m quite certain, is that you have to be able to effortlessly make a batch of Rice Krispie treats. Mine almost never turn out. This time is no different. I make a mistake on the recipe because instead of using a 10oz bag of marshmallows, Justin and I have melted a 16oz bag and don’t realize it until I start mixing in the Rice Krispies and it seems there is an unusually high marshmallow to Rice Krispie ratio. (Honestly, I was more attuned to making sure Justin didn’t sear his hand on the hot burner while stirring the marshmallows, than paying attention to the net weight of the bag.) I pour in some more Rice Krispies. Now I’ve made a colossal mess and am trying to mash them into the pan. When I run water into the sticky bowl Justin sees an opportunity and pushes his chair to the sink to “wash” his hands. When I see that he’s putting soggy paper towels into the sink, I officially end his Rice Krispie detail.
7:12 p.m. David has graciously agreed to allow Cameron to try on his Batman costume, provided David gets to try it first. Justin wants a Rice Krispie treat. Cameron is pestering me to get the costume down. I get Justin his treat and try to clean up my mess. Cameron is still nagging me.
7:15 p.m. I get the costume out. David tries it on, and he looks pretty cool. Cameron tries it on and it’s humongous on him. Justin gets in on it too and puts on the mask and goes downstairs to show Barry.
7:22 p.m. “Jen, get Justin out of here, Cameron wants the mask back and Justin won’t give it to him. I’m trying to call my mom.”
7:24 p.m. Justin finds my cell phone, and decides he wants to call Grandma and Papa. He talks for awhile. I talk. He wants the phone back, and I have no idea how the call transpired after that because now Cameron is crying, curled up in a ball on my bed.
7:35 p.m. “It’s no fair. Everyone else has their whole costume and I don’t have my whole costume!!!!” Huge tears. “Cameron, what don’t you have? You have your Indy hat and jacket. You have the whip and the bag.” “Yeah, but I don’t have any brown pants, a shirt, the gun pocket, or the belt.” “I didn’t even see a gun pocket at the store.” “That’s why I wanted you to go to Party City EARLY to get it!!” SAD, sad tears. “Cameron, we have a pair of David’s old pants you can wear, and a belt.” “But that won’t be like the costume. Indy’s pants are DARK brown.” “David’s pants ARE dark brown. Here, come with me and I’ll show you how cool your costume will look. We’ll even make your moustache and beard.”
7:45 p.m. I fish Cameron’s Indiana Jones messenger bag out of the toy box. Cameron helps dig his Indy hat out of the coat closet. We go down to his room and I show him his belt options. He picks a dark brown one. I look for the white shirt he was using this weekend to play Harry Potter, and find it in the laundry room under some dirty clothes. “Mom, Indy’s shirt is yellow, not white!!!” “No, Indy’s shirt is really white. It’s just looks yellow because it’s so sweaty and dirty. This one will look fine, you’ll see.” I go through a box of David’s old clothes and find the pair of dark brown cargo pants we need. Cameron puts on the pants and shirt. I hook up his belt, throw on his messenger bag, and tie his whip around his belt. He puts on the jacket and hat and totally looks like Indiana Jones. (Insert Indiana Jones theme music here.) We go upstairs and I brush some brown eye shadow on his face to create Indy’s 5 o’clock shadow. “Make sure you put it all the way up to my ears.” We’re all set. He shows Dad, who is playing a game with Justin, and gets a little TOO into the Indy spirit, and whips Barry across the face.
8:05 p.m. Cameron’s crisis is now successfully averted, and it’s past Justin’s bedtime. Justin’s bear is still missing and this is a major problem. By problem I mean Code Blue, Category 5, Government Bailout, F-10, Tie Game Bases Loaded Bottom of the Ninth with Two Outs, All Hands on Deck, Emergency. Barry and I initiate a hard target search of every bedroom, living room, bathroom, dining room, coat room, and laundry room, and come up with nothing. Five dollars in reward money is put up in hopes of enlisting David and Cameron to join the search party, which works. They both scatter and are on the prowl. David announces, “I get $5.00!!!” “You FOUND it? GOOD!” “No, just joking.” I’m not even slightly amused. The search perimeter is widened on a tip that the bear may have been taken out of the house. “I had it on the swings.” Barry, who is thrilled, is assigned responsibility for the outdoor sector. I continue investigating. “Justin, when you came home from Karen’s did you take your bear off of your bed?” “My bear’s scared.” “I know, your poor bear, he is scared, that’s why we need to find him. Justin, when you came home from Karen’s did you take your bear off your bed?” “My bear’s scared.” “Yes, I know, but listen, when you came home from Karen’s did you take your bear off of your bed?” “My bear’s scared.” “I’m getting nowhere with this line of questioning,” I say aloud, which David thinks is hilarious. Barry comes in and says he can’t find it and we’ll have to look tomorrow when it’s light. Justin is sad.
8:25 p.m. Justin wants to “stay up a little while,” but that just isn’t an option and I get ready to haul him into bed. I have a last minute inspiration, “Did you look in the car?” “I looked in the van, it wasn’t in there. The car was locked.” “But it wasn’t locked before when he was playing in it. Did you check in there?” “No…I’ll go look.”
8:27 p.m. The living room is littered with Cameron’s multiple outfit changes. “Cameron! Pick all of this stuff up and put it some place where you’ll be able to FIND it!!!”
8:28 p.m. I carry Justin to bed. He’s crying. I tell him that Daddy is still looking for his bear. He’s fighting me to get out of the bed.
8:29 p.m. There IS a God! “HERE’S your bear, Justin!!!” “Daddy FOUND it!” There is much rejoicing.
8:30 p.m. Reunited with his poor, scared, lost bear, Justin and I talk about its harrowing ordeal. Justin loves it up and then goes to sleep with his arms wrapped securely around it.
8:46 p.m. I go help David with the portion of his science worksheet that he has decreed to be too difficult for Barry. What do fossil fuels and food have in common? “They make you poop!” Not in the mood, I give the longest, evilest eye I can muster. “Sorry!”
8:49 p.m. Something secretive is happening in my room. I knock on the locked door. Barry is letting Cameron put on David’s Batman costume. I warn him against it.
8:54 p.m. I go downstairs to upload a picture of Cameron’s Indy costume. A primal scream instantly alerts me to the fact that David has seen Cameron wearing his Batman costume and is, as I predicted, freaking out about it. There is much yelling between the three of them upstairs. David comes downstairs and is WHINING incessantly about how Cameron is going to ruin it. Barry can’t take his whining any more and tells him to stop it. David is now crying more and whining to the point where I could think of a thousand things that would be LESS annoying, including fingernails on a chalkboard AND Gilbert Gottfried. I tell him that if I hear another peep, HE won’t wear the costume for Halloween either.
9:01 p.m. Barry comes downstairs and tells David that Cameron has taken off the costume. David is appeased (for now). “Jen, no offense, but how long are you going to be down here?” “Are you kidding me? This is the first time I’ve had three seconds to myself and you’re hassling me about it? I’m sorry for being in MY house.” “Unbelievable, all I want to do is watch the game in peace.” Barry storms out.
9:12 p.m. I go upstairs to get Cameron ready for bed. He has an entire stack of books he wants to read for his Kindergarten reading list. We make it through three, and halfway through the fourth his eyes are half shut. “Cameron, are you sleeping?” Small nod. “Should we finish this tomorrow?” Tiny nod. I move him over, “Ow, ow, ow! My elbow!!!” I’m not touching his elbow. “Mom! My elbow has a headache!” Ok, yeah, sleep-talking.
9:28 p.m. OMG. Quiet. Finally I can relax. I decide I’m too tired to even bother turning on the TV to see the score of the game. I read about four pages of my book and have to put it down because I’m falling asleep
© Jennifer Alys Windholz 2019