If my life was a commercial…

My friends have been asking me to update my blog. It’s been a few days since I have added any new posts. It’s not that I have nothing to say, because that is certainly never the case. It’s not that I don’t have the time to write my non-existant thoughts down, because even if I don’t surely I will put off something much more important like changing a diaper, getting the kids dressed and fed and getting them off to camp on time — OK, that is one thing I will not forsake. I will not keep them in this house any longer than necessary. Camp is a wonderful, albeit expensive thing. But to have a few hours without bickering, bantering, kicking, shoving, biting and screaming is priceless I tell you.

Mastercard could make a great commercial using my kids at their worst. In the end they they pan over to me, mastercard in hand eagerly handing it over to the lady on the other side of the desk saying “Sign ’em up for every program under the sun” … and then a close-up of the huge enormous the smile on my face as I walk out sans children… and the word Priceless at the bottom of the screen!

It’s been 22 days since my kids have been out of school. It’s been 22 long days. The mornings, this week, are wonderful, relaxing, almost joyous. Alexander and I go about what we need GoingAbouting… we go to the playground… have play dates and run errands. He may have a small tantrum from time to time, but the old pro I now am knows how to diffuse these episodes… Other than that he is perfect. He has not learned how to beg and plead and whine mercilessly for things that he wants and does not need. He accepts no as an asnwer and he does not talk back.

The afternoons are OK insofar that I can keep the kids busy and separated unless they are busy together… Yesterday Rebecca was inside drawing while the boys were outdise playing with the hose and the pool. Everyone was happy and so was I. The day before was a blasted nightmare. Even though I am an old pro when it comes to Alexander, with the older two I am still learning the ropes.

I thought it would be a good thing to let them both have play dates at the same time. The girls would play together and the boys would play together. Alexander would either hang out with me or his brother. I have no idea on earth what I was thinking… No idea whatsoever!

Both friends arrive minutes of each other about 5 minutes after we return home from camp. The first 15 minutes are practically blissful. The girls are outside in their bathing suits playing with the hose, pool and swingset. The boys have gone up to play games. I know they say to be leary of silence, but silence is such a rarity in this household that I relish and cherish every second of it. I sit outside on the deck with my iced tea and sprig of mint and open up to page 70 in A Thousand Rising Suns. I have read the author’s other book, The Kite Runner, a few years back and it remains a favorite. I am savoring this book equally as much. I want to keep reading… I want to see what happens next to the characters… it’s a page turner and I don’t want to put it down. This is the perfect oportunity to open the book and ignore the kids. I make it through a page when Rebecca and her friend go inside and I am left with the baby. He seems fine down below happily entertaining himself. I open the book back up. I manage to get through a few more pages before all hell breaks loose.

The boys are screaming that the girls are barging in on them so that they can’t play games… the girls are screaming that the boys are bothering them… no one will leave anyone alone. I am quietly amused as, an only, I have never experienced sibling rivalry, so when it’s minor stuff like this I usually laugh. Usually it sorts itself out without my medling. Sometimes I need to intervene. Looks like this will be one of those times.

I tell the girls to stay down stairs and play and the boys can go back up and play whatever they were playing. The fighting does not stop. Nor does the screaming or shouting. Christopher comes outside with his friend and a piece of blue paper on which is written in large letters the work KEEP he asks how to spell OUT and GIRLS! I am chuckling because all summer I have been trying to get him to write in a journal. Just one sentence. Nothing more. Perhaps, instead, I should have told him to write notes to stick on his door. I think the girls tell his friend to rip up the sign becuase he does. Christopher comes back out in tears. I tell him to make another sign. At this point Rebecca is making signs that say KEEP OUT CHRISTOPHER. This does not sadded Christopher instead what does is the picture that Rebecca drew on her sign. The boy had big hair. Christopher did not like the picture. He said he did not like the boy. More tears, more fighting. Rebecca is egging him on and he punches her — wham — in the chest. Christopher is sent up to his room in tears. Inside Rebecca is still making her mean signs. This is the longest play date… ever.

Eventually it is time for the kids to go home. Christopher is still crying up in his room. He does come down briefly to say goodbye to his friend. Both kids have lost TV and computer privileges. We go back to Christopher’s room and only then do I notice the sheer mess… Monopoly and Monopoly pieces all over the place… Lincoln Logs and blocks all over the place… stuffed animals all over the place. And crumbs…. teeny tiny crumbs mooshed up in the rug. This gets me. Food is not allowed in the bedrooms. It is not allowed upstairs. Food is allowed in the kitchen, family room and dining room only. Food is not allowed upstairs. I do not know how it got up there. I am told that his friend brought fortune cookies for everyone and decided to moosh the individually wrapped cookies into crumbs and proceeded to spill cookie crumbs all over the place. How could a little boy do this? How could mine not come and tell me… I want to cry at the mess. I don’t. I tell Christopher he is responsible for cleaning his room… properly… to Pass Inspection. And my kids know what that means.

My day is still not over… not by a longshot. I still have to make dinner and take the older two to their evening tennis lesson. It’s hot and it’s humid but at least the sun is not high overhead… I have to rush to have dinner ready before we hit the courts so that I can have it on the table the minute we are home. The kids will be ravenous. I prepare a bunch of different cold salads — pasta with pesto, tomatoes with goat cheese and basil, a corn salad from the Barefoot Contessa, cucumber salad and a one more made from fresh trout. I serve little toasts grilled on the grill with the dinner. Salads are easy breezy but time consuming. After all the stress of the anfternoon it’s a race aginst the clock for me yet… Finally at 5:30 I get the kids ready, leave the baby at home and take off. I have a few minutes in the car and I want to read but I am happy to watch the kids. They miss about 50% of the balls — they have only just picked up this particular sport — but their strokes are beautiful. I am for a moment proud and for a moment I have forgotten about all the bad stuff… until the lesson is over and they are back in the car and the whining ensues all over again…

If my life was a commercial this one would be for Calgon… stressed out mom shouts for the bubbles in the tub to take her away!

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