Sunday, June 29, 2008

The morning after the night before

Yesterday was not the best day for that play date. I mean, it was a perfect day when we set it up last week. Eldest and Godson would be off playing D&D in the mountains at The Boy’s house. This is a good thing, because they are older. More worldly. They say things to the younger children which begin with, Well, I suppose when I was YOUR age…

The games of the, you know, babies are a tad beneath them. Also, Godson is an only child. He really doesn’t know what to make of our home. It’s something of a madhouse. (No, really? We never would have guessed that, Tama.) It tends to be loud and meals can be odd at times and also we have a way of constantly having extra guests around.

I’ve been told it is a common thing in larger households, this tendency to have a revolving door through which an endless parade of guests come and go. My mother-in-law is of the opinion that it is because We Of Many Children are simply gregarious by nature.

Personally, I think it is because we have trouble counting. One, two, three, wait, did I already count that one? Wait, OK, one, two…no, I’m counting him twice again…one…

You could drop five extra kids off here, and I might not cotton on to it until they were all crowded around the dinner table. And even then I might not notice until I unexpectedly ran out of clean plates.

Anyway. It was a great day for it when we made the arrangements. Then I had two nights with less than five hours sleep. And there was dust everywhere due to the drywall work that had been done. Plus the paint fumes Friday morning were bad enough to gas an elephant (it was the primer – once the paint went over it, the smell improved considerably).

So the kids got here and all five of them began disobeying the house rules immediately. We have a fairly short list:

1. No hurting yourself: If you are about to do something that might hurt, stop.
2. No hurting other people. This includes their bodies and their feelings.
3. Try not to break things
4. The master bedroom is off-limits, period
5. The living room is not a playroom – you can go in there, you can even gently play the instruments if you like, but it is not a place for toys, games of tag, jumping on the furniture, eating, drinking, smoking, chewing, spitting, blowing bubbles or pretty much anything else kids like to do.

That’s it. The whole list. You can slide down the stairs on a cactus if you want, as long as you don’t break Rule #1 doing it.

But I kept having to run them out of my bedroom, and stop them from jumping and climbing on the living room furniture, and yelling at them to BE GENTLE! with the piano. I quickly learned that with this pair of kids, the key is physical intervention. Words go into their ears and are translated by their brains as meaning, “Wah wah wah, wah wah wah.”

I think it was because they were saving the batteries on their ‘listening ears’. Maybe saving them for important lectures in the coming first grade school year or something.

You had to go up to them, grab their wildly pounding hands and firmly hold them still until they were annoyed enough to turn on their ‘listening ears’ and then say, “If you keep abusing my piano, my 1933 Kimball upright which has a mature sound and grand-piano-like touch which pleases me mightily well and which I hath not found elsewhere in an upright, I shall END your short little lives Be gentle, sweetie, she’s very old and her keys break rather easily.”

While this really isn’t a bit unusual for kids their ages who are in the throes of Great!Excitement! that a yearned-for play date combined with not being allowed to run wildly outside for a few days at a stretch will bring, well, I was tired. And I had a headache. And a lot to do. Which wasn’t their fault, certainly, but gee whiz – couldn’t they have decided that the fun thing to do yesterday was, Pretend to be boring old grownups who just want to sit quietly reading the newspaper all day?!

By the end of the day I felt as though I’d spent the entire day listening to people play It’s A Small World on a chalkboard with their fingernails. Long before I presented them with their this is the last thing we’re doing before you go home dinner, I was more than ready to just go to bed.

When they finally went out the door (there was some wailing and protesting and outright refusal to leave; while I was gratified that they had such a good time, I was about ready to help them out the door with my boot!), I turned and looked at my house. One clean area (the one I’d been working on all day long with the furniture-moving and the dusting and vacuuming), and utter devastation everywhere else.

Not just Kid Devastation (although that was considerable), but House Under Construction Devastation. Stuff everywhere. Nowhere to put the stuff.


My own kids immediately settled down when the others left. The unbroken circle through which all that energy had been running was broken, and the energy just went pffffffffffft out into the Universe.

In the blessed quiet, I put on Dumbo. The girls wandered off to their own room, but Captain Adventure stayed with me, sitting on my lap, pulling my arms around him and holding them tight there – my snuggle-bunny.

His grip began to relax. He started shifting around looking for greater and greater comfort, even if it meant he couldn’t see the movie as well.

Right before this scene, he fell asleep with his little head on my shoulder.

That song has never been more touching to me. Especially since the day will likely come when I really will be saying those sorts of things to him…Little one when you play, don’t you mind what they say; let those eyes sparkle and shine, never a tear, baby of mine...

1 comment:

Amy Lane said...

Before my oldest was diagnosed CH,Big T and I used to watch Dumbo nonstop... I was so afraid that he would be my 'Dumbo'--so big, so awkward, his words sooooooo difficult to find.

Not so. He's been my 'T', my 'Big Guy', my 'Adam Sandler in the making'--there will be a time, Tama, when that song doesn't make you tear up. Trust me.

When Chicken was born, I used to sing "Watch out for Mr. Stork..." After two more kids? I STILL sing THAT puppy:-)