This weekend there were a number of things working against me. It was cold and rainy for the first time after a lovely but too-short summer; our dinner party was a raving success and so inevitably we are coming down into that post party-nothing-to-look-forward-to slump; the boys have converged in the most annoyingly simultaneous whiney stages; I have a really excellent book to read which I’ve waited patiently for along with the other 873 people who wanted to read it in the Multnomah county library system; I’ve been really busy at work; we haven’t been grocery shopping since before the dinner party so the fridge has only baggies full of bizarre foods like pâté and beets with goat cheese and ginger beer, which translates into unhappy kid meals.
Which is all to say that this weekend I was terrible to my kids.
The oldest wanted more water in the bathtub after letting the water out of the bathtub in successive gulps as a part of an elaborate game he plays with the tub drain stopper. I said no. He whined. I roared.
The youngest is perfectly capable of fitting his elastic laced shoes onto each of his chubby feet, mostly even on the right chubby feet. But this weekend (and mostly every other day) he did not want to put his own shoes on. I explained that he could and would put them on his own feet or else he wouldn’t be coming to dinner with us. He screamed. I screamed back.
James was not immune either. I yelled from the living room couch (where I was trying to read that very excellent book) for the youngest to stop yelling in the back yard. James asked me to stop yelling and then had an elaborate wrestling match with the boys to their very hysterical delight. I said he was just trying to make me look bad. He said to join them when my attitude changed. I read my book and sulked.
I know this is not acceptable, especially for the working parent who should have a surplus of patience. But I rarely have a surplus of patience. I feel like I often walk into or am minutes away from some kind of melt down from one of the kids and it’s sort of disappointing. I have this secret expectation that I will spend these quality hours after work with my well behaved, clean shirted kids, that this will be special time. And that somehow they should understand that this time should be special, non-whining, unmessy time spent with me–that they are supposed to be my ideal kids. But they do not realize this because they are 5 and 3 years old. I’m just an occasional accompaniment to their whiney, messy days. They are not ideal but these days, neither am I.