Extremely Loud and Incredibly Distracted
This song is lovely…and for our house, it would need to be rewritten.
Our house is a very, very, very LOUD house
With three kids in the yard, life used to be so quiet
Now everything is crazy ’cause of you.
And, you know, I love the crazy. I live the crazy. Sometimes, I feel the need to show people what having three almost-four-year-olds is like, because so often they say, “I don’t know how you do it.”
It’s like this:
Every afternoon when I come home from work:
I open the door. Three small humans turn from whatever they’re doing to TELL ME ALL ABOUT SOMETHING AT TOP VOLUME: MOMMY! MOMMY! [INCOMPREHENSIBLE SHOUTING THAT INDIVIDUALLY WOULD SOUND LIKE A STORY BUT COLLECTIVELY SOUND LIKE GIBBERISH]
Today during pre-outing potty check:
Kid Z’s turn for potty check: this kid finally gets into the bathroom and spends some time examining bath toys.
Kid Y bee-lines into the bathroom, pulls own pants down, gets on the toilet, pees, flushes, pulls pants back up, and gets on the stool to wash hands.
In the same amount of time, Kid Z has progressed to pulling pants to ankles and is in the middle of a lengthy story to me about tigers.
This is why it takes me forever to get out of the house.
The other night, well after lights-out:
Kid X calls downstairs: Mommy, I need a nail clipper.
Alan calls back, because we really don’t want to go into their room for the 4th time: What do you need a nail clipper for?
Kid X: I need a nail clipper because…
Kid Y: KID X NEEDS A NAIL CLIPPER!
Alan: I know that; I was asking Kid X why.
Kid X: I…
Kid Y: KID X NEEDS A NAIL CLIPPER! [continues yelling over every attempt at conversation until we give up and go in to find out]
My dining room floor is, in fact, made from wood! Not, as previously suspected, from a combination of stale cereal bits, dried shredded cheddar, hardened rice, and bean husks.
And summer–oh, man, summer is the bane of a clean floor’s existence. Not only do my kids track in dirt, sand, pebbles, etc., but there’s the grit that gets accidentally dumped out of the shoes they wore to the sandbox, or the “nice rocks” (or feather, or shell) that someone stuffed into a sweatshirt or pants pocket to save, that I find in the washing machine trap.
A recent afternoon, trying to get dinner ready after sending three kids into the backyard to play:
Kid X comes inside to help me with dinner. I get him/her situated on a stool to help me sort broccoli into big and little pieces so I can cut the big pieces.
Kid Y comes in from the backyard because clothing is wet. “I know. You were playing with the water table. That’s the point,” I say. Kid Y needs help wriggling out of wet rash guard.
I attempt to continue prepping broccoli.
Kid Z stops at the threshold from the backyard to pour water out of a rain boot. This kid also needs help getting out of wet clothes and back into dry clothes. Kid X is waiting patiently (I hope) by a very sharp knife. Kid Z hauls another stool from the bathroom to “help” me make dinner. I return to the broccoli.
Kid X gets down from the stool to use the potty. Kid Z starts talking to me about something. Kid X returns from the bathroom.
“Did you wash your hands?”
“Go wash your hands.” Kid Z keeps trying to talk to me. I try to focus on not slicing my own or anyone else’s fingers. Kid X drifts toward the food.
“Wash. Your. Hands.” Same story.
Kid X huffs back toward the bathroom and then calls that there is no stool. I haul the stool back in.
Kid Y calls into the kitchen: “Mama, will you read this book to me?”
Kid Z is thoroughly annoyed with me, gets off the stool, and stalks into the living room. I’m left with one (finally) clean-handed kid and the same pile of broccoli. I attempt to continue.
Kid Z yells at top volume from the other room: “MOMMY. I’M NOT TALKING TO YOU.”
Good, I think.
Kid Z is not done. “MOMMY. DON’T. TALK. TO ME.”
I’m obviously not talking to you.
“YOU’RE NOT LISTENING TO ME!”
I leave the broccoli, telling Kid X not to touch the knife, and head into the living room.
“Are you frustrated because I wasn’t able to pay attention to you?”
Kid Z grunts at me. Or growls. Hard to tell which.
I end up telling Kid Z something more kid-friendly than this:
Sometimes I get frustrated with you because you get distracted, but then sometimes you ask me to do something, and I say ‘right after I do this other thing,’ and that turns into four other things because the laundry needs to get switched over to make sure the mattress pad is dry by bedtime because someone leaked through their pull-up again, or someone needs help in the bathroom, or I realize I haven’t peed in several hours, or a myriad of other fires that need putting out. And then I forget what I promised. Which is so frustrating for you, and me, and it’s just the chaos of our life.
If there were an Olympic event for “picking up” (i.e. putting away every shoe, article of clothing, toy, blanket, etc. that is spread over every floor of my house), I would win. Maybe. I bet there’s some stiff parent competition in the “picking up” event.
We try to have a nightly “pick up game,” for which my husband brilliantly creates tasks (“If you can name this book, you can put it on the shelf!”) But there are only so many fights per day that we can fight, and sometimes the energy required to herd kids towards clean-up is more than we can muster.
So I find myself whenever I move from Point A to Point B in our home, picking up as I go. There’s a pair of kid socks under the kitchen table that need to go in the hamper, and on my way to the hamper I find toys that belong downstairs, and on my way downstairs I realize that there’s no laundry basket for the dry laundry down there, so I climb up to the second floor and find toy cars strewn all over my bedroom floor. By the time I finish picking that up, someone is calling me to help with something, or two kids are in a screaming match, so I never remember to have an empty laundry basket in the laundry room and this is why I often find a kid’s sock or pair of underwear in my jacket pocket.
Perks of having three kids:
Oh, there are perks.
I can trust them to watch out for each other.
They comfort each other, even if I got upset at them. (Theresa hugged a crying Audrey this morning–I don’t even remember why she was crying.)
They shared the only snack I had on the unexpectedly loooong ride home from a park this afternoon before dinner.
This morning, they played so happily together that I thought, “Having a good day taking care of my kids is better than a day to myself.” When it’s not a good day with the kids for various reasons, obviously I’d rather have a book and a mug of tea at the coffee shop (or, heck, even a stack of grading and a mug of tea). However, today was an exceptionally agreeable day, despite the several pee accidents and awful traffic.
At least my life is never boring.
P.S. I need better aliases than Kids X, Y, and Z. I’m open to suggestions that protect the kid in question’s identity.