Five days in November


Karma and I have had a falling out. I wouldn’t say things have been going swimmingly recently, but they’ve definitely been better than a dog paddle. I no longer roam through each day in a sleep-deprived fog and I’m able to eat the majority of my meals without feeling like crap. These are definite bonuses, especially when most days involve some kind of battle with a four-year-old reincarnation of Stalin.

This week had an agenda no sleep trainer or elimination diet could have saved. After all, the combination of no child care, -30º weather, and a temporarily absent husband is I believe what you will find in the parenting cookbook under recipe for disaster. Additional ingredients for extra zing include a teething toddler who’s also learning how to walk and a preschooler whose starting position for everything that doesn’t involve TV or chocolate is an ear-piercing NO.

In my naivety, I thought it would be manageable and, potentially, fun. Even the Cheerios tried to warm me. Perhaps an arrow pointing feverishly to the door would have been more effective message of impending doom.

Normally on days when the kids are home, the first mission of the day is to get the hell out of the house. But it’s November and it’s dead-of-winter, snot-freezing cold.

E was not-so-secretly pleased about our inability to venture out of doors. She has developed a strong sense of fashion that doesn’t include her one-piece snow suit. I understand where she’s coming from, but at the same time I don’t need my ear drums pierced every time I suggest a romp in the snow.

After one particularly impressive display that would make Gordon Ramsay look polite, I decided my sanity was worth the exorbitant cost of new snow pants. So we made a deal.

“What should we do if you (lose your shit) at the store?”

“Take away my show.”

Losing TV screws me more than it screws her, but it’s her currency so I had to go with it.

This is (one of the many times) where I feel like an asshole. I set her up to fail. It was late in the day, she was tired after a morning play date, and I was about to take her into a huge store to try on something bulky, hot, and complicated. Brilliant combo.

We left the store with no snow pants and, of course, no Dora on the horizon.

That evening, I realized the dishwasher had been sitting full of clean dishes for three days. I unloaded them onto the counter and crammed an Ikea’s worth of colourful plastic bowls into the machine. Then, I went to the basement to relocate the carpet in anticipation of the cleaning ladies’ arrival the next morning.

Mid-way through sorting toy trains and Frozen costumes, I heard an appliance yelling at me from the kitchen. It was the dishwasher. It quit.

At this point, I guess little man was feeling like he wasn’t pulling his weight in the catastrophe department. About ten minutes after the dishwasher buggered off, he woke up and started a night from hell. He screamed more than he slept and I cursed everything under the sun, including boy’s trips to Phoenix.

Day Five has arrived. Our entire collection of dishes is on the counter in various states of dirtiness, there’s a pork tenderloin in the fridge that’s been waiting to be cooked since Thursday (when I still had hope), and there is no TV again today, thanks to the g.d. snowsuit. I thought I had a decent post-nap peace offering in the form of a muffin and new puzzle, but the muffin went flying for not having enough chocolate chips and there was too much screaming to allow for a new toy.

This is when I start to wonder whether four-year-olds understand consequences.

Now that everyone is asleep (knock wood), I start my evening ritual of second guessing every parenting move I made during their waking hours. I google things like “why is my four-year-old so angry” and read articles that make it sound like I’m damaging both of their psyches. I text my friends for sympathy and pray the kids have good benefits when they’re older.

Luke’s resurfacing is sure to be met with gloriously happy children who will make the incessant texts he received over the past few days look like vacation-killing lies. He will be popular, loved, cuddled, and serenaded with giggles. I, on the other hand, will be the jerk who didn’t want to make waffles because it would have dirtied our last three dishes. At least now there’s someone else around to share the glory of dish pan hands.