At the risk of being a terrible Minnesota cliché, I’m going to spend some time on this post complaining about the weather. Specifically that the forecast for tomorrow morning is -20º F. Throw in a 10 mph wind, and we’re talking about a climate that is less habitable than the inside of a fucking meat locker on the frozen planet Hoth.
So since your face can freeze off in like a minute, and limbs will turn to cord wood, and your tears of pain instantly turn into ice cubes before hitting the ground like that little penguin who tries to hitch along with Bugs Bunny in those old Warner Brothers cartoons, the local schools are cancelled again tomorrow. For the fourth day since returning from winter break. Not counting MLK Day. For those of you who do not know what it’s like to be trapped inside of a closed structure with children who’ve played the same video games, read the same books, watched the same movies, and hung out with the same friends for weeks on end, let me tell you a little bit about it. I realize most of these are very privileged problems to have, but I’m not gunning for sainthood, so I don’t really care.
The day starts out with someone giving you “five seconds” to help him out of bed or he’ll “explode.” Then you go through a hundred breakfast options, none of which are acceptable to any of them, but that’s okay because they can have a nice hot bowl of jack squat instead. Two minutes after stepping into the shower, there is pounding on the bathroom door with a warning that you have “five seconds” to stop his brother from making fun of him. Pretty soon another one is up, and he’s left a trail of drawing paper, pajama pants, socks, basketball cards, and Go-Gurt wrappers in his wake. Next someone wants to take a bath and “accidentally” floods the bathroom floor. A friendly board game breaks out, and lasts approximately five minutes before accusations of cheating and gamesmanship fly, and it ends in someone quitting in anger. Inevitably a war will be waged over control of the TV when they can’t agree on whether to watch SportsCenter, Spongebob, or a movie only one of them is interested in, and I hear that I have “five seconds” to make them give him the remote. Someone will decide to eat lunch at 10:00, and leave a trail of bread, peanut butter, knives, plates, and napkins all over my kitchen. Soon begins the first of five daily debates about whose turn it is to let the dog out. Chores are assigned, and are done, half-assed, only after an hour of nagging. Lunchtime means you’re a short order cook because one person wants fish sticks, another wants scrambled eggs, and someone else makes his own macaroni and cheese, leaving you to chisel dried residue off the pan after it’s been sitting on the counter for an hour. One of the main instigators has the genius idea of playing basketball downstairs, with a real basketball, dribbling, and shooting, but before that hot mess gets underway, he requires everyone to be properly outfitted in NBA attire, which means ransacking dressers to find the right jerseys and wrist bands. And because they all seem to have some rare disease that prevents them from closing any cabinet door, drawer, desk, or cereal box, all the dresser drawers are left open, resulting in great instability and frantic cries from the non-baller left behind in his room when it nearly tips over on him. You’re interrupted every two minutes like clockwork for some request, from resetting passwords to pouring orange juice to attending to phantom injuries. Just when you think they’ve settled into doing something productive, like making a video with iMovie, one of them decides to ruin every take by either farting, coughing, laughing, or diving into the shot. After begging, threatening, and pleading with him to stop acting like an idiot, to no avail, desperation sets in and, against your better judgement, you take out a contract on the perpetrator by texting his older brother to come take care of the problem. Of course excessive force is used, and now not just two people are unhappy, but all four of them, yelling at each other in four-part harmony like the world’s most dysfunctional barbershop quartet. The power cord gets pulled out of the wall awkwardly, severing it in half. Making dinner is a production because every time you are elbow deep in deboning a chicken, or have just chopped up an onion, someone needs your hands for something, and the dog tries to score a taste while you’re distracted. And then you turn around to see 25 sheets of paper strewn across the kitchen table because Picasso can’t get his drawing to look just right, and has to start over every single time, and you’re given another “five seconds” to draw the outline, but ONLY the outline for him. Out comes the rainbow loom, and frustration ensues when the right color rubber band can’t be located, or someone wants to make a “fishtail” design, but can’t get it to work, and you want to tell him that kids in Pakistan are weaving their own fucking magic carpets by the time they’re three years old, so figure it out for yourself. Now you have to drive a kid to his friend’s house, and you’re jealous that the lucky bastard gets to escape this loony bin, and make him aware that he owes you at least $30 in babysitting, which you are goddamnwell cashing in on tomorrow. When you return, your entryway looks like a Goodwill donation center, and you wonder why the coats, gloves, hats, boots, and shoes seem to increase exponentially with each passing week.
And tomorrow it happens all again.
“Okay campers, rise and shine! And don’t forget your booties because it’s cooooold out there today.”
© Jennifer Alys Windholz, 2014