Three Kid Circus : Demolition Derby

Tuesday, August 03, 2004

Demolition Derby

And, we're off! The race to keep one step ahead of the kids is on.

We've been awake for a couple of hours, and so far so good. I've managed to slurp down a cup of coffee, get everyone dressed and breakfast made. Of course, it was summarily rejected, and a short list of optional menu items deemed unappealing. This is what happens when you attempt to make donuts at home one stinkin' time. DO NOT ATTEMPT THIS! It will sabotage Cheerios, yogurt and scrambled eggs forever.

I've chased the big kids outside to play. We've exceeded our AMA-recommended television limit already today, and I am already hanging on by a fingernail. The late night, unfinished bowl of popcorn abandoned by my husband has already been upended on the floor and duly vacuumed. The Little Tykes shovel full of gravel that my son carried into the kitchen and dumped has been swept up and returned to the yard. My action plan has dissolved into a reaction plan.

I'm exhausted from running a triage ward of a home. I don't know how other moms do it. I feel like I've been juggling a chainsaw, a water balloon and an apple. You have to keep going, because if you lose your concentration, you're either missing a limb or cleaning up another mess.

What do you do with kids who can up-end the couch? Kids that are wild, creative, with imaginary rivers to cross and mountains to climb? I alternate between frustration and enjoyment. I shoo them off of the furniture and direct them outside to the swing set. Once they are outside, I spend my time restricting the scope of their play, killjoy that I am.

"NO, no, get out of the Japanese maple. Climb on your swing set."

"No, no, turn off the hose. You can use this mixing bowl for a lake. Just bury it in the gravel like this. Stop glaring at me. No. You cannot run water into the ground just so you can have a river. Would you like me to help you? No. Fine."

"It's 8 am, please stop screaming. I know you are escaping from Sharp Tooth, but do it quietly."

I'm sure the neighbors just LOVE us.

I always envisioned romping with my children, enjoying their imaginative play and wanting to participate. I do, sometimes, but I am so weary that I don't have a lot of joy in it. I remember being 7 0r 8 and having a great time creating characters and acting out stories with my sister. We reinacted stories, formed clubs with neighborhood kids, and probably drove my mom crazy.

I want to rekindle my playful spirit, before my children are too 'cool' to play with Mom. When all is said and done, I don't want to look back at these years as the slave-labor years. I want to remember laughing until my sides hurt, and eating popsicles on the grass. I sure as hell don't want to remember gravel on the floor at 7 am, or the fact that I too often squash creative play by flicking on the TV in the hopes that all will be quiet for 20 minutes. Thank goodness for Mommy Brain.

I have a nagging suspicion that my little destructos want me to be fun too. I say "not now" and "we'll do it later/this afternoon/after preschool/tomorrow" while I check email, pay bills, and try to get the house in order. I know it all has to be done, but I could restructure my day so that the kids don't have to ask for my attention so often.

I grew up on the books of Eloise Wilkin. The pretty mommies and handsome daddies, clearly defined gender roles and apparently bliss make me feel like a shmuck. Did those Baby Dears ever poop on the linoleum? Did those pretty mommies ever curse like a sailor on a really bad day? What were they taking? Can I get some of that?

With a little bit of luck, a lot of laughing and maybe a cocktail or too, I think I can get back on track. My house probably won't be Wilkin clean, and you are not going to find me in pearls, with a apron tied neatly over my dress as I cook a seven course meal for children who are obediently tiding their room before my husband arrives home. But I can enjoy these years, and take the time to really play.