The sound is what you notice first, well that and the cold but we’ll come back to the cold. The sound, a cacophony of noise that ebbs and flows to seemingly random rhythm. There is a din of activity and yelling that is punctuated by high pitch screams and almost constant movement. I watched a couple of kindergartener re-enact the entire dance from the Gangnam Style video, and do a pretty great job too. Some of the hip thrusting was troubling but both boys had better dance moves than I ever managed. There was also a group of girls lineup in rows like a choir singing pop songs in harmony. They had printed out lyrics and while I recognized the songs I couldn’t tell if they had changes the words or not. They sounded lovely when I could make out the tune through the screams.
Kids pulsed through the space like one big living organism with comets shooting out of the central mass. I watched, taking my new job as recess monitor very seriously. For the next two weeks I will be on the playground monitoring the situation. Mediating conflict, keeping kids safe, giving the teachers a break. That’s my job, well that and bathroom, drinking fountain and coat monitor. That is actually the job I do, answer requests for one of the those three things on a constant basis. It’s like one of those SAT questions, or the count in the Black jack. I expect the principal to come up to me and ask how many kids are in the school at any given time and I will need to give him the count.
I enjoyed my first day but quickly realized that I need a few more layers of clothes to stand out in the cold. The kids are running around like crazy but I’m manning a specific zone most of the time and the gloves and hoodie were not sufficient to keep the cold at bay. Hours later as I type this my fingers are still cold. I will bundle up and get back out there in the chaos and beauty of grade school recess, but I need to check on that taser I was promised!
One of the main reasons I was not good at staying home was that I go crazy when the house is in chaos, which any of you who have children knows is pretty much all of the time. I would sweep the kitchen floor only to have some small person with a cracker traipse through and spread crumbs hansel/gretel style every way they walked. I would wipe faces and butts and countertops only to have them snottyy, shitty and syruppy all over again. I didn’t handle this constant redoing well. I needed something to stay done for longer than eight seconds and nothing about raising small kids is neat or finished or without a smeared handprint for long.
This is why I am a much happier person when I work away from the home. I get things done and they stay done. It is a simple need but having paperwork on my desk that goes from folder to folder in levels of completion is extremely satisfying for me and involves no crumbs. And that satisfaction mostly makes me capable of putting up with a little more chaos at home, wiping runny noses with more grace, answering rapid fire four year old questions with more patience, fishing my makeup brush out of the toy box or the recycle bin or the couch cushions with more forgiveness.
But. When I clean the house from top to bottom on a Saturday morning while the boys are out picking out their dream power wheels jeep at the local toys r us and then within all of a blink of an eye the whole house is thrashed as soon as they walk through the door, I feel a little defeated. The chaos wins. Which is ok I guess. The boys probably won’t remember how clean our house was for a short minute this weekend. Hopefully they’ll remember decorating sugar cookies and how fun it is to smear sprinkles into the crevices of the table top. They’ll remember wrestling and playing high-flyer challenge on the living room floor and then having a picnic dinner of popcorn, celery with peanut butter and puppy chow (chocolate covered crispex). Hopefully they’ll remember all that and not how crazy their mom gets when they don’t put their rain boots away in the bench. And besides, tomorrow is Monday. Neatly stacked papers await.