How Is It Not Even Noon Yet?

This morning Andy woke up to find James staring at him, little chocolate fingerprints staining the sheets. Turns out we forgot to close the gate at the top of the stairs. Again. And instead of waking us up, James went downstairs, got into the candy basket and ate half a chocolate Easter bunny. Not only did he eat the bunny, though, he tried to hide the fact that he did. In the bathroom we found bits of chocolate stained toilet paper on the wooden stool and chocolate fingerprints covering the toilet paper roll. He did a fairly good job of cleaning himself up, honestly—except for his chocolate-covered nose.

And then.

Today is Sophie’s last day of preschool. She attends Fort Thomas’s Country Hills Montessori school and loves it. This morning she was a mix of emotions—giddy with the idea of starting kindergarten and upset knowing today was her last day at this place, with these people, who have meant so very much to her (and to all of us). But she was also excited because the boys, who will be attending CHM next year, were invited to spend the morning at her school.

All three were excited.

The boys insisted on wearing their backpacks. They skipped to the car and ran into the school, smiling.

Sophie showed them where to put their backpacks and then led them to the small sink to wash their hands. Then they spotted the gerbil. They were supposed to be sitting on the blue line, criss-cross applesauce. I let them check the gerbil out, thinking a quick peek would quiet them. It did not quiet them.

“I want to see the gerbil!”

whining, wriggling and running off the line

“I want to do the puzzles!”

whining, wriggling and running off the line

“I want water from the water fountain!”

whining, wriggling and running off the line

“I WANT A COOKIE!” (Note, it’s 9:20am.)

whining, wriggling and running off the line

I was so embarrassed.

At this point, Owen was doing better than James. So I pulled James aside (and by pulling aside I mean I had to, literally, chase him down) and explained the importance of the line, of criss-cross applesauce, of being quiet and listening to the teachers.

Once group work started I apologized to the teachers. I promised I would work with them. The teachers were so kind and assuring, promising me this was normal. I’m sure it’s normal, the first week or so. But for everyone else, it was their last week. Everyone else was sitting on the line, criss-cross applesauce—including Sophie, who kept hissing “Boys! Sit down!”

And now we’re home. And they’re fighting over oven mitts.

A confession: I’m already dreaming of fall, when, for 2-1/2 hours three days a week, I’ll have three kids in school.

That is, if they’re allowed to stay …

“Children are a great comfort in your old age—and they help you reach it faster, too.” —Lionel Kauffman


Tonight Sophie and I went to get haircuts. At 6:42pm I received an e-mail on my phone with the subject line: “Dinner is going well.” I opened it and saw this:

And at 6:48pm I received another e-mail with the subject line: “Even better now.” And then there was this:

We’re having a rough week.

“Temper tantrums, however fun they may be to throw, rarely solve whatever problem is causing them.” —Lemony Snicket

To the Woman Who Sold Me Stamps At the Post Office Today:

I would have liked to zip in and out sans kids but because you close at 5pm and my husband doesn’t get home until 6pm, I had no choice. Plus, I want to take my kids to the post office. I want to explain how “mailing a letter” works and what “stamp” means and I want to help them understand how our mail gets from here to there.

My children are 4-1/2 and 2-1/2. The line was long. When Sophie complained about having to stand, I talked to her softly and she stopped. I made everyone stay close to me. No one was running around. They started humming and singing, and I asked them to do it quietly. When Owen and James started whining and asking to go home, I held them one at a time. Yes, the other child was whining while waiting his turn to be held but I did what I could.

So, dear postal worker, when it was my turn to make my purchase I was sort of upset when you pointed to Owen, who was in my arms, and said “You have a spoiled one there, don’t you?” And then, when I mumbled a response while lifting each child up so they could see over the counter (something they love), “I have a stamp that says ‘spoiled’ if you want to put it on his hand.”

I would love to have toddlers who never cry and whine when having to wait in a long line in a place they have no interest in. I would love for them to always be content standing next to me (although, I admit, after awhile I’d miss occasionally holding them in my arms). I’d love to go somewhere with all three of my children and once, just once, have such a quiet and calm experience that no one even so much as glances at us.

But right now, that’s not possible. Both my boys are getting over colds, colds which required regular at-home nebulizer treatments. They’re hopped up on steroids, too, which makes them more irrational than usual. Owen also is battling an ear infection and is on antibiotics. And yesterday, they only got a 40 minute nap.

These may sound like excuses and, perhaps, they are. But just know that I’m trying my best. I’m trying my best to lay down rules and expectations for my children while also taking into consideration that they don’t feel good. Maybe I shouldn’t have given into Owen’s whine/cry to be held but honestly, I don’t mind holding him—especially when he doesn’t feel good and especially when he just wants to see. The woman who sold me a cup of coffee understood that yesterday. As I picked up each of my three children so they could see what I was seeing over the counter she smiled and noted how hard it must be for young children to miss so much when everything around them is so tall.

I realize I should let these comments go. But these comments are like tiny gnats buzzing around my head that I can’t seem to kill. They bother me. They make me wonder if I’m screwing this thing up, if I really am raising spoiled children. And part of me hates them because maybe there’s truth to them—Owen and James have been so whiney lately. I try not to respond to it. I try to insist on “nice words.” But, sometimes, I fail. Especially in tiny, crowded post offices when I’d rather just hold my child than deal with—and make everyone else around me deal with—a full-blown tantrum.

As a mother, every day I feel like I’ve failed some way, some how. I make mistakes, constantly. I question myself and worry, worry, worry. But I’m waking up every day. And I’m getting them out of bed every day. And I’m trying to teach them, guide them, share with them, show them, play with them, feed them and care for them the best way that I can. And I know my best isn’t as good as it always could be, or should be. But I’m trying.

In closing, I know my son was acting spoiled. I’m sorry about that. But I don’t need it pointed out. And I certainly don’t need to stamp it on his hand. What I need is a knowing smile, a small word of encouragement, a friendly “hello” to my upset child or, at the very least, just my stamps and receipt so that I can exit as quickly as possible. I imagine throughout your day you experience many unpleasantries—upset children, upset customers, maybe an upset boss. But I was doing what I could to make your day as pleasant as I could—given that my three children didn’t want to be there. In return, I had hoped for something different than the offer to advertise my parenting failures on my son’s hand.

a sometimes-frazzled, constantly worrying, hoping-tomorrow-is-better mother of three

“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” —Eleanor Roosevelt