And I yell a lot. I don’t mean to be a psychotic bitch to my children in the mornings, it just comes out of nowhere like that iceberg did. And I’m just as helpless to stop it.
I need to get them up at 6 so that we can leave the house by 7:20 and rendezvous with the bus at 7:28 (where I’ll piss my neighbor off). That gives me an hour and twenty minutes to make sure all three kids pee (one has a diaper change), get dressed for chilly weather, eat breakfast, get hair done, get socks and shoes on, locate homework, get lunches in backpacks, and head out the door. And by the way the dog wants to pee.
If this sounds simple, you are sorely mistaken.
Getting my older two to roll their lazy asses out of bed every morning takes nothing short of a one woman marching band and a multitude of threats to do bodily harm – which I’m amazed to say all have little impact. What does have impact is threatening to take away dessert. I hit below the belt.
And make no mistake about it, Thing One and Thing Two, I will take away that dessert quicker than Obama took away hope from the middle class and you won’t know what hit you.
Next I need to get clothes on their naked asses. My girls have reached bachelorhood at the tender ages of 6 and 8 and only sleep in their princess underoos.
This is perhaps the second biggest struggle of the day, as the things I pull out of their drawers never seem to match up to their incredulously high hobo standards. When left to their own devices they dress like homeless bridesmaids, but when I give the order to put on something cute (look, you don’t even have to think, it’s here in front of you), suddenly it’s not good enough and doesn’t fit and they don’t like it anyway.
I know, my kids’ first world wardrobe problems are tragic.
After that mess is handled, I tell them to put on socks before dragging my screeching toddler downstairs to stuff food into his gaping maw. Else he will implode. Or the neighbors will call CPS for child abuse. I’m not sure which is worse, to be honest.
This is where the yelling begins.
I start on lunch and have to yell upstairs for Thing One to retrieve tiny Bento-Box lunch containers from the depths of her backpack so that I can fill them with more crap that the other moms are going to curl a lip at. Fuck them anyway, Pringles have a little vitamin C.
I am ignored by Thing One. The toddler is screeching at my ankles. Guilt overrides my bad mood. I drop the lunch task and do the breakfast thing. Toddler Thing is pleased. Thing One and Thing Two are nowhere to be found.
If there’s one thing that twists my panties right up my asshole, it’s being completely ignored by my spawn.
Yelling gets angry and usually includes more threats. Somewhere amid the cacophony of dog yelping to be let out and toddler screeching with me for fun, a small voice in my brain says “the neighbors can hear you and they think you’re white trash.”
Fuck off, brain, I have less than an hour to get these miscreants out the door and there’s too much shit to do to worry about your fucking babbling.
Thing One and Thing Two finally make an appearance. In the interest of saving time, I bite my tongue on the lecture and tell them to sit and eat.
You’d think that two young girls would love shit like Cinnamon Toast Crunch or Lucky Charms, right? How about toasted Eggo waffles with butter syrup?
No. The whining commences. “I want oatmeal!,” “don’t like this cereal!,” “I got syrup in my hair!,” “she flung milk/syrup/cereal/snot/filthy looks at me!,” “I can’t eat until I find my pony!”
I’m ready for a glass of wine and I’ve been awake less than half an hour. I try not to picture knocking both of their heads together.
“If both of you don’t knock your shit off, no one gets dessert in their lunch. This is what’s for breakfast, you eat it or starve.” I can feel their sour glares through the side of my head as I concentrate on making the lunches they won’t eat.
Loud splats tell me that Toddler Thing is throwing food all over floor and the dog nearly pisses herself with excitement because she wants it so bad. But can’t have it. Because she’s in a kennel because dog diarrhea is fucked up.
Thing Two: “I’m gonna starve, I wanted oatmeal.”
Me: “Fine, go get socks on like I asked you to do earlier.” I try not to growl. Because I know where this is going to lead.
Thing Two disappears upstairs while Thing One complains about Thing Two and picks at breakfast and I wrack my brain for something to put in their lunches besides ham sandwiches. If I had my way they’d both get peanut butter and jelly, apple slices, and a bag of crackers every single day. Because I have enough decisions to make on a daily basis and I’d like to eliminate that one entirely since they ignore everything but the cookie I end up giving them that they don’t deserve.
I finally get lunches done (peanut butter and Nutella – which is arguably more nutritious than peanut butter and jam) and promise myself wine and chocolate for this massive achievement.
I notice that Thing One is still sockless and Thing Two has not resurfaced from the pink sparkly swamp that is their room. Thing Two has a bad habit of disappearing and not coming back when shit needs to get done.
More yelling. Thing Two cries about finding socks that match. Then cries that they’re not pink. Thing One sneaks upstairs to do as asked, because Thing One is intuitive and can see that Mommy’s fuse is about an inch away from “shit’s about to get real here.” Less than half an hour left until we have to leave. Hair is not done. Homework is not found. Socks are not on feet. Still have to deal with Toddler Thing and dog. Thing Two is still crying pitifully at the top of the stairs, which makes my fuse burn faster. I hate whining.
Me: “I DON’T CARE WHAT COLOR YOUR DAMN SOCKS ARE JUST PUT THEM ON AND GET DOWN HERE SO I CAN DO YOUR HAIR!”
Thing Two: “But my shirt is red and I want matching socks!” (Tears and drama)
Me: “CHILD IF YOU DON’T GET YOUR BUNS DOWN HERE NOW I’M GOING TO PAINT YOUR BACK PORCH RED.”
Thing Two resurfaces. Tear stained. Struggling to deal with this indifferent, cruel reality. Plain white socks in hand. Minor victory.
Toddler thing is screeching that he’s done and wants down from his high chair. There is food everywhere and I’m going to end up wearing it when I pick him up.
Me to Thing Two: “Get your socks on I need to do your hair.”
Thing Two: “Do sissy’s hair first!”
Me: “I’m not arguing. Do it now.”
I’m attempting to retrieve Toddler Thing from his seat. He’s flinging strawberry jam, Eggo Waffle, and mashed banana everywhere with the ferocity of an octopus that’s been speared by Ahad himself.
Not to self: clean walls before banana dries or it will become cement.
After I’ve finally cleaned up Toddler Thing and most of myself, I round on Thing Two. Who is still sockless and playing with the pony she couldn’t find earlier. My nostrils flair and fire shoots out of my ears.
Me: “WHY THE HELL AREN’T YOUR SOCKS ON?!”
Thing Two (now looking appropriately fearful and fidgety): “Well, mom, they don’t look pretty and I don’t think they fit anymore and you told sissy to put on socks and she still didn’t do it yet so she should put hers on.”
Each tick of the clock is a mocking laugh. My eyes are sparking fury. A litany of dirty words and punishments cross the battlefield of distance between my eyes. Thing Two can see it and avoids eye contact.
Me: “Child. You have to the count of three to get those socks on or I will take away dessert and bust your sparkly pink behind.” My voice is calm and deadly. This is the voice that they fear most. This is the calm before the storm of punishment that rains down on their asses when they push me too far.
Thing Two’s eyes widen. She begins to move more rapidly than I thought possible, and before I even start counting, socks are on. Just as I’m about to grab the bucket of hair things and sit, Thing Two runs to the bathroom.
“Wait, Mom, I have to go potty!” And just like that, the door slams closed and I’m sitting there with a bucket of hair stuff in my hand, a clock ticking away the morning, Toddler Thing sticking pieces of food through the dog kennel bars, and Thing One still mysteriously missing.
Oh hell no. Thing One pulled a Thing Two and disappeared.
More yelling up the stairs. Thing One resurfaces, wearing socks, and a different top. If I address the top then heads are going to roll, so I pretend I don’t see it. For my sanity.
Me: “Come here and get your hair done.”
Thing One: “You did it yesterday.” We do this every day, I’m shocked that she still tries.
Me: “And now it looks like a rat is living in it. Come here.”
Thing One: “It does not. It’s fine. I like it this way. Do Sister’s hair.”
Me (now exhaling smoke): “Child. If you don’t get your butt over here and get your hair done I’m going to chop it all off and be done with this mess.”
Thing One’s hair is past her butt. It’s her favorite trait. This threat hits home, mostly because I’m tired of dealing with grooming her hair for her every day and arguing about it. She knows I’m getting to the point of chopping it off to save my sanity. Thing One tromps over to me and presents her rat’s nest, arms crossed in defiance. I begin the long task of brushing, detangling, and muttering to myself. Thing One begins the long task of complaining and crying that it hurts, despite my efforts to be gentle. I begin the long task of explaining to Thing One that this is what it’s like to have long hair (as if she didn’t know this after having it for eight years), and if she doesn’t like to take care of it then we can cut it short.
I finally finish braiding Thing One’s hair (after having to start over three times because she’s trying to wrestle Toddler Thing as I do it), and set her free. Thing Two is still in the bathroom. Yelling continues. Thing Two resurfaces.
Thing Two: “Look, mom, I made bubbles!”
I look past the toothy smile on her face and see that she used all the soap playing in the bathroom. And now her socks are wet.
I hope those wet socks bother her all damn morning, because I’m so not going there again.
Me: “You used all the soap.”
Thing Two: “Nu-uh, Sissy did.”
Thing One: “No I didn’t! I went potty upstairs!”
Thing Two: “Yes you did, I saw you use it last night when we were brushing our teeth!”
ME: “ENOUGH OF THE DAMN FIGHTING! You, go find your homework. You, come here and get your hair done.”
Fifteen minutes until we have to be out the door. The dog can sense that we’re leaving and has begun whining and yelping frantically because she wants to go, too.
Thing One finds her homework while I’m doing Thing Two’s hair and confesses that she didn’t finish her homework. And it’s due today. I’m marveling at my self control thus far, I haven’t knocked any heads together yet. Thing Two is laughing and trying to play with Toddler Thing as I do her hair, and I can’t help but wonder if this is what it’s like to remove a fish hook from a wriggling fish.
I yell at Thing One to finish her homework and she gets frantic, yelling at me for not making her do it the night before. I distinctly recall Thing One telling me that she finished her homework. I give her the responsibility speech, angrily, while I wrestle Thing Two into place.
Thing Two is moving so much that I’ve had to start over three times. And it’s just a simple pony tail. I resist the urge to whack her in the head with the brush as my frustration mounts heights that rival Everest. I finally finish Thing Two’s hair with a rougher touch than necessary.
Five minutes until we have to be out the door. No one has shoes on, Toddler Thing does not have shoes or socks or a sweater, and Thing One hasn’t finished her homework.
FUCK! We’ve gotta steer this ship out of “Your-Ass-Is-Gonna-Miss-The-Bus Bay” before that iceberg sinks us.
I go into overdrive, yelling louder and tossing around more threats. Thing Two runs upstairs to find her sweater. Thing One finishes her homework, throws it and her lunch into her backpack, and begins rapidly pulling on a sweater and shoes. Thing One is trained well.
Toddler Thing is struggling violently against my efforts to put shoes, socks, and a sweater on him. You’d think I was hog tying him and trying to brand him. He’s laughing the whole time and the only thing I can think is “this shit isn’t funny.”
Thing Two resurfaces – wearing a different outfit that doesn’t match.
“Look Mom, aren’t I pretty?”
No shoes, sweater, or backpack. I bite my tongue, because this is the part where I usually want to yell shit like “what the fuck is wrong with you, do you need Ritalin to put on a sweater? For Fuck’s sake, I asked you to do one thing and you got lost in la-la land and now you look like a fucking hobo and you’re going to make us late. PULL YOUR HEAD OUT OF YOUR ASS AND PUT ON YOUR FUCKING SHOES.”
My monotone response: “Yes, lovely, put on your shoes.” My self control is iron.
Thing Two giggles with glee and hops down the stairs to find shoes. No sweater. I don’t care at this point, it’s sixty degrees out and she won’t freeze to death. I do, however, have a problem with Thing Two’s choice of footwear.
Me: “You can’t wear those shoes to school, put on tennis shoes.”
Thing Two: “But these are pretty, I want to wear these!”
Me (grinding teeth. One minute left): “You’re not wearing little black dress shoes to school, you can’t wear heels on the playground and you’ll ruin them or twist your ankle. Put on tennis shoes like I told you to.”
Thing Two (now crying): “But I hate tennis shoes, they aren’t pretty and they don’t match and-”
Me: “I DON’T GIVE A SHIT IF THEY MATCH OR NOT. PUT ON YOUR DAMN SHOES BEFORE I BEAT YOUR ASS BLACK AND BLUE. IF WE MISS THE BUS BECAUSE YOU’RE HAVING A WARDROBE MALFUNCTION I’M GOING TO TAKE AWAY ALL OF YOUR PRETTY CLOTHES AND MAKE YOU WEAR PLAIN JEANS AND A WHITE T SHIRT EVERY DAMN DAY FOR THE REST OF THE YEAR!!” And I mean every word of it in that moment.
Horrified look on Thing Two’s face. Thing One is taking the dog downstairs dutifully, avoiding my wrath like the plague. Thing One is forgiven for the homework mishap. Thing Two is cowering and sniffling under my heated glare. Not that I would ever beat any of kid’s asses black and blue, but I’ve been known to administer a spank under dire circumstances. These kids know I mean business.
We finally make it downstairs – on time. Toddler Thing is sitting happily in his stroller, dog is pulling the stroller with youthful enthusiasm, and Thing One gleefully skipping down the driveway to the bus stop while Thing Two drags her feet and glares at me.
Thing Two: “I’m hungry.”
Me: “You said you wanted to starve this morning because I wouldn’t make you oatmeal.”
Thing Two (crying now): “But Mom I’m so hungry and I need to eat or I’ll turn into bones and die.”
Me: “Tough cookies. You made your choice, breakfast is over.”
Thing Two (throwing herself on her knees in the street and crying loudly): “I’m starving!!! I didn’t get breakfast and I’m so hungry!!”
Neighbors are peeking out of their windows. I realize in this moment that I look like Hot Mess Mom. I haven’t even looked in a mirror yet this morning, but I’m sure my hair is wild. My makeup smeared. My clothes covered in banana and strawberry jam. My gaggle of mismatched hobo kids and dog swarming around me with all the finesse of monkeys escaping from the zoo. And my middle child telling the world that I didn’t feed her.
I want to strangle her right there in the street.
Me (dangerous voice): “What, exactly, do you want me to do about it? We’re in the middle of the road, about to miss the bus because you chose not to eat breakfast. That was your choice, and now you’re paying for it. Get your little buns off the pavement and start walking. Right. Now.”
Ignored. I park the stroller and begin to dig in Thing Two’s backpack for her lunch.
Thing Two (sniffling with eyes wide): “What are you doing?!”
Me: “What I told you I was going to do.”
I remove dessert from her lunch. Drama explodes as she screams and cries and begs.
Me: “Keep this up and you lose dessert after dinner.”
Thing Two, getting herself under control and standing: “Okay…”
Having won my battle with Thing Two, the rest of the march to the bus stop is blessedly uneventful. Thankfully, we don’t miss the bus. I go through a lot of wine, though.
Now I know what my mother meant when she said she needed Prozac.