Norman Rockwell always makes it look good, doesn’t he? He draws the family eating and, yes, someone’s feeding the dog under the table and, yes, someone’s getting awkwardly squished between a couple of over affectionate great-aunts, but it’s lovely, because it’s … what? Beautiful? Americana? Reality? Well, allow me to play Norman Rockwell for a moment and paint you the picture of our evening.
James and I ran some errands with the kids this afternoon. We hit five stores in an hour and a half so, really, we were doing quite well.
We even managed to get home at the right time to start dinner. Of course, as any mother of small children will tell you, there is no right time to start dinner. In my experience it is impossible to get food in the mouth of a child before they are “starving”. It is actually hopeless because whenever you start cooking, they will still smell the cooking before it is done.
But, I was doing ok. I was cooking. I was cleaning as I went along. To be sure, there was a LOT of screaming going on in the background, a few time-outs were being doled, but it was mostly out of the kitchen if not behind sound proof doors. And then, my eighteen month old has learned how to move the stools around. So now, you turn around and when you turn back there’s a baby trying to stir the pot or pull the knife into his face, for example. Basically I was Shiva in the kitchen this evening trying to have three arms to baby’s two.
And then I snapped. I yelled. My husband got the ol’ “Why aren’t you in here helping me?!?!?!” bit. I honestly can’t remember passing the point where I realized I needed help. I went straight from “I got this” to “I needed your help five minutes ago”, straight there.
So dinner began with Mom delivering a four point apology:
“I’m sorry I snapped.”
“It was wrong because no matter how angry I am I should still speak to you with respect.”
“In the future I will try to recognize my breaking point before I get there and take a deep breath before I speak.”
“Will you forgive me?”
Everyone said yes. It seemed to me that my husband said it rather smugly, but that’s probably just me.
So then we decide to ice the cake, so to speak, and make it a family game night.
My six-year-old picks Blockus, a fantastic game requiring four players and about a zillion tiny pieces.
It was a bit of a disaster. The eighteen month old was continually wedging himself into any portion of empty chair he could find and diving at the board. We were pushing chairs in and passing water glasses across the table in a sort of baby avoidance dance we are rather practiced in at this point of our marriage. After about eight rounds the baby slowly picked up a piece and when I went to take it away he released it, dove for the board and finally succeeded in casting the pieces asunder.
As we pulled him away he yelled something sounding very much like, “Attack!”
We began again. My four-year-old was losing interest fast which was fine because she was basically using a kamikaze strategy that was not doing anyone any favors. My son began to get upset that he was being blocked during a game of BLOCK-US. And I end up playing with the baby sitting on my shoulders. I think he ate the bobby pin out of my hair because I can’t find it anywhere.
The game ended rather abruptly when a moment of frustration from my eldest child sent the pieces asunder for the second time almost an hour after we had first begun our bold strike for family togetherness.
We put the kids to bed after that. That was forty minutes ago. The baby keeps grabbing the blinds and making the most spectacular sound slapping them around, which has the others cracking up. We’ve gone in there three times already.
I was hoping by the end of this blog, they’d be done…
Nope. Here goes Dad. He’s putting an end to my daughter’s singing. Oh, now she’s crying.
“What is she crying about?” I ask when he comes out.
“She wants to go to sleep,” he shakes his head, and smiling a little adds, “At least we’re all going for the same thing.”