For some inexplicable reason, 5:00 pm is the point where all hell breaks loose in my house. I don’t know if that’s like when God takes His coffee break, and just lets the evil spirits in the universe run wild or what, but it’s been going on for 12 years without fail. And I’m tired of it.
Some days everyone goes mental just long enough to ruin dinner, other times it continues throughout the night. Tonight one catastrophe just blended into the next, as if Satan were a pinball, just bouncing off one kid to the next, racking up points for each obnoxious behavior. Bonus points for an all-out hissy fit or one kid doing bodily harm to another.
The big kickoff started with Alex, crying his eyes out because his friend, Anna, was going to Buffalo Wild Wings for dinner. And we had no such plans. Once that drama ended, I sat in the living room with Justin, Alex and Penny all vying for my attention, Justin and Alex fighting over who had the better place on my lap.
Cameron, despite having refused to do his homework after school as I had asked, decided he wanted to get a haircut before his school pictures on Friday. So Barry took him, along with Justin, to get that done. David was at a friend’s house playing football so that left just me and Alex.
The two of us had a nice time. Alex had a couple of slices of frozen pizza, strawberries, a plum, and a big glass of milk. Barry and I planned on having leftovers. I cut up some fresh taco fixings for him for when he got home. I sliced a peach, nuked myself a bowl of homemade chili, and sat down with Alex. We watched The Backyardigans while we ate. That was the last moment of calm for the next five hours.
Soon Justin walked in with a sucker for Alex. How sweet, I thought, this is much better than an hour ago.
“Cameron’s cryin’ and mad in the car,” Justin said.
Barry walked in. “Cameron won’t get out of the car. He’s mad because he wanted to go buy a toy at Target.” Cameron’s birthday is Saturday. My parents sent him a card with money in it. It came in the mail today. Apparently he decided that it had to be spent immediately. He threw a screaming tantrum that lasted for well over a half hour. Maybe more. It’s like time stops when this type of thing goes on.
By the time Cameron finally ate something, which was half of his problem, David came back in, and started giving him the third degree about how many cookies he’d had, and smacked him around because he decided he was lying about it, which he actually was, sending Cameron into another crying spell.
After dealing with David’s aggression problem, Barry settled in to get started on Cameron’s math homework, and I set out to give Justin and Alex a bath. Justin got pissed at me for trying to rinse his hair, tried to pull me in the bath with him to avoid water being poured on his head, and got me soaking wet in the process.
Once I escaped from the bathroom, David and I sat down to watch Modern Family. Naturally halfway into it, is when Alex came running out, crying, naked, water dripping all over the floor, to tell me that Justin was spitting water on him. I paused the show, which caused David to whine because I’d “take forever” dealing with those two.
I tried to put Alex’s pajamas on, over his frantic objections about being cold, and wanting to be wrapped up in the towel, and then wanting to wear his blanket “like a princess dress.” And as I got Justin dried off, I had to stop every ten seconds because his princess dress kept coming undone.
Meanwhile Penny is begging for attention by stealing every object within her reach that she knows she isn’t supposed to have, daring us to play keep away with her.
I gave Justin and Alex the option of going to bed or playing quietly in their room. Of course they said they’d play. And of course they didn’t stay in their room and came over and bugged David and me, fighting over who got what spot on the couch. Right before the show was over, Justin noticed that the piping on the edge of his blanket had torn off. He demanded that I cut it off.
While I did that, the next show, Revenge, came on ABC, and Alex saw the first part of it, which looked somewhat inappropriate for his age group, which of course meant that he desperately wanted to watch it, and kept going back to turn the TV on after I shut it off. For some reason David thought he needed to intervene here too, and pushed Alex down when he went for the TV. Eventually Barry had to escort David to his room, and I had to pick up Alex, kicking and screaming, to go to bed.
Of course Justin, who had stayed out of the fray for the most part, decided to be difficult and refuse to go to the bathroom before bed. So negotiations and pleading had to take place for that while I continued to struggle with Alex.
Once all of that was resolved, I could hear David downstairs wigging out because he couldn’t find something. That lasted several minutes until Barry came upstairs and found whatever it was that he was missing, reprimanding him for coming so unglued about it.
By 10:00 everyone had miraculously returned to their senses, and there was a bit of peace. I should probably drink more, it would help immensely, but I don’t even know when I’d fit it in. There are days when I think to myself, if only I were less responsible, and wouldn’t feel guilty for abandoning everyone. I think I’d run off to a nice little artsy town in the southwest, start painting, relinquish all material things, let my hair grow out really long, wear a lot of turquoise and ruffled skirts, live in an adobe house, wake up to the sunrise with a fresh pot of tea…
Because quite honestly, I just don’t want to do this anymore. Some nights I fail to see any humor, any joy, or anything but pure exasperation in this existence. It’s just too much. The whining, the crying, the yelling, the fighting, the clinging. It. Has. Got. To. Stop.
© Jennifer Alys Windholz, 2011