Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The School Year is Kicking My Ass (Part 2 of 2)

This is part two of my life continued from the post above:

My Life After Lucy Started School

5:30: I'm up. Some days I have to move the car on the street. I get a "Vente black ice tea, no water, no sweetner" at Starbucks when I am too lazy to make it myself.

6:15: I write for a bit. I drink my tea.

7:00: I make Lucy's lunch. This lunch thing is a bit like a science experiment. My credentials as a serious cook and food blogger are meaningless here. Just because she eats it at home, does not mean that she wants me to pack it artfully into her bento box and send it to school.

And every day as I labor over the contents - fresh carrot sticks, slabs of mozarella, a little bin of pistachios, home made pizza magarita, stir fried rice, linguine carbonara - I take silent bets about how much of it she will eat. It's like my own soap opera inside my head. What will she like better, the panko crusted fish bites or
the edemame? Will she snub the farfalle with peas or will she send back an empty box? Oh how the sight of a nearly empty box makes my heart soar, although I never let on, never show that any of this matters to me. I ask her matter-of-factly and she tells me in the same matter-of-fact voice. It's like a game we play.

The pressure of it all is excruciating.

Everyday after we get home, I search the bag and see what was eaten and what was left. It always surprises me. The thing I think is going to be a winner, is the thing left untouched. And vice-versa. Scientists will find a cure for cancer before I figure out what my kid loves to eat for school lunch.

7:10: I wake up Lucy. And usually David. I carry Lucy's mumbling, raccoon-noise making little body to the sofa where she watches Pink Panther episodes until she drifts into near consciousness.

7:15: I poach David eggs but the timing is sometimes off because he's in the shower or out of the shower or I hand him the eggs when he is trying to put one leg into his underpants. Sometimes he is so rushed and behind schedule, he has to eat while putting on his socks. Sometimes he just looks at me and silently lets me off the hook without making him breakfast. I love him for this.

7:15-7:45: We are dressing. I am chasing Lucy around the house with a brush and pony tail holders, which leads to an exhaustive negotiation about the hair. How much I brush it, where I brush it, can I brush it while she is laying on the floor and bouncing her head up and down? I say despicable things like, "Mary in your class has beautiful hair. I'm sure she sits with her mommy for a long time getting those pony tails just perfect." Ugh. When I hear myself, I want to slap myself across the face.

Lucy also uses this time to share with us how much she doesn't want to got to school and how her life would be much more improved if we just let her stay at home and watch unlimited hours of Wow Wow Wubzy.

8:00: Sometimes Lucy is dressed, hair combed, usually I'm fishing clothes out of the laundry to make that happen. But she hasn't eaten her hard boiled egg or her "lightly toasted bagel with butter" - which is exactly how she orders it and if you give it to her even medium toasted, because maybe you're busy and doing 10 things at once and you leave the bagel on a little too long, she will limply toss it back on the plate and ignore it nearly into non-existence.

Sometimes Lucy's eaten her egg but the back of her hair is rolled up into a ball of snarls so thick it projects out of the back of her head like a poltergeist. Sometimes she is half dressed and putting her shoes on on the bike as David is taking off, but her hair is reasonably combed and I have popped a bagel into her hand, which she probably finishes while whizzing down 125th street in the bike seat. Sometimes she doesn't eat at all. And I don't feel even a smidegeon guilty for that because well I'm just happy to get her out the door before I morph into one of those ugly, screamy moms.

8:15: I clean the kitchen. Maybe write some more. I pick up and mutter that I live with gypsies and how all I do is clean. Seriously, I'm reduced to muttering.

Rest of the Day: Edie wakes up. We play. We read. I examine her poop and declare that they look like meatballs. Or green snakes eating malted milk balls. Some days we meet people and go to zoos, museums and other engaging public places. Edie and I walk two miles to Lucy's school to pick her up.

Two days a week, I walk two miles to drop Edie off at her school. On those days she breaks the record for a three year old who can say "I don't waaaanna to go to shcool...I don't waaaaana to go to school...I don't waaaaannnna to got to school..." so many times that I consider enterng her into the Guiness Book of World Records. Then when we get there, she clings to me as if I am handing her over to ax murderers only to be running wild and laughing with a bunch of kids five minutes later, as if I was erased from her memory.

3:00-4:00: I pick up kids. Make small talk with other parents. I usually embarrass myself when I learn that my kid is the only kid who didn't get any books from Scholastic because I never submitted the order form, and I didn't submit the order form because the check book disappeared and I have not been able to find it, so I kept saying I would do it on-line, but of course that actually never happens, so there you go...crappy parent amid a sea of people getting it right. Or at least this is what it feels like.

We return home on the bus, carrying 15 pounds of groceries I forgot to buy earlier, because I am no longer a long-term planner. I am a grasper of straws, trying to get a handle on the schedule, always a step behind. Always a quart of milk shy in the fridge.

I hop on the bus with my grocery bags, an arm-full of toys, a stray shoe, a double stroller a four year old who is pissed and cranky after a full day of behaving nicely in school and a three year old who just wants to be home and is not afraid to tell me 100 times in succession.

One day last week, I broke down and bought the girls little bags of Gold Fish (You know how much this kills me. See? School is helping me abandon all my principles) thinking they'd have a better bus ride home. I left the bus with the floor strewn with goldfish, parents shaking their heads and both kids sobbing because I wouldn't let them eat Gold Fish off the floor.

4:30: I make the kids take a bath. They holler about having to shampoo or do any kind of basic hygiene maintenance. I stick wet kids in front of TV and make them dinner. I become a cliche. The TV is my babysitter. I stare into the fridge hoping I had the good sense to prep something in the morning (sometimes) or figure out how to simply make something awesome on the fly before the children's stomaches explode in unison.

One kid hits the the other one just as I am covered to my elbows in egg batter and panko. Or they come in the kitchen demanding to help, which was great when we lived our life of luxury, but these days I am fighting the clock. So I stop making dinner to make them a healthy snack, give them two knives and a tomato and tell them to go at it. They eat the healthy snack and butcher the tomato while I finish cooking.

It's a game show. A sick, twisted game show.

They mess up and destroy either the kitchen or another room while they are cooking or waiting for more food. There is probably tomato on the wall. Within the hour, without much supervision, it looks like we live in one of those houses on the show "Hoarders".

5:30: We eat. Without David. If the kids wait to eat with David, they will not be in bed or able to settle until 10. We tried this. We can't do it. Sadly, family weeknight dinners all together are out. We become a statistic.

6:30: David comes home. There is re-newed energy. They bounce on beds. They make a deeper, more refined mess, with more tiny toys and little parts strewn everywhere and a much more gripping attention to destruction. If there is a pile of clean folded laundry somewhere, they will knock it to the ground and use it as their "dance floor".

6:45: I pour myself wine. A big honkin' glass of wine. I feed David and pour him wine too. We de-brief about the day, everyone chiming in about stuff that happened to them. The kids hang onto him while he eats and as if I didn't feed them at all, eat off his plate for a second dinner. We defy the statistics and end up eating together after all.

7:30: Books. Brush teeth. As of this post, Edie has gone two days without brushing her teeth. I've taken away all sweets, treats and chocolate milk. Still, I hand her the brush expectantly and she shakes her head and says "I no want any chocolate milk anymore." I consider that I need Super Nanny to come to my house and straighten us out.

8:00- 8:45: Bed. Let me just put it this way: You know how on TV, the really pretty Mommy leans in to her child's room, the child is laying still under her tucked in blankets, Mom winks, says "Love you, Muffin", shuts off the light and quietly closes the door? Um, well that's not us. Our bed time is a mixture of cajoling, threatening, soothing, kissing and ultimately after much stalling and asking "Why? Why? Why must I go to bed?", we get two snoring, beautiful kids.

8:46: There is quiet. Weird, really.

9:00: David is working on his laptop. We kiss, cuddle. Adult talk. Watch Lost on the Roku box when Edie hasn't stolen the remote and stashed it in an obscure, never-used Hello Kitty bag in the back of the closet. I work on my laptop, returning e-mails, reading blogs. David and I send e-mails to each other even though we are sitting right next to one another. We look up periodically and laugh about something, remind each other of a task, tell a funny or stupid story. Sometimes we make love. When we aren't comatose.

I have about an hour, maybe two, or maybe none at all, before I fall into bed completely exhausted.

I miss my life of luxury. But...eh, this is a life, still and all.

xo YM



Anonymous said...

Betweeen drop off and pick up and holidays just after your kid finally adjusts, half day preschool often times seems more trouble then it's worth
My kids are older than yours and my third just entered full day kindergarten. I will say this, the mornings are always a bit hellish--especially when homework and sports equipment enter the picture but life does get easier when they are in school for a full day. Maybe you will be there next year with both your girls. Of course I am a little sad about thenm all getting older but I have to say those 7 kidless hours when they are at school can be quite restorative and productive.

Cali said...

shew! that actually sounds like my day in a nutshell, but as a single mom. they say it gets easier, but i'm not seeing it yet... and my son is in second grade. the weekends are my only time to catch up and that's only if i'm not working on saturday nights. i say good luck! i hope you get your schedule down. it def makes you appreciate vacation time that much more.

Lauren said...

This makes me feel less guilty for reading a book or watching t.v. while I breastfeed my 3 month old. Clearly peace like this isn't going to last forever. I'm excited for the chaos though.

Izzy's Mama said...

Why do you put yourself through such hell? You sound like the perfect candidate for "unschooling". You clearly have the patience for it and you and the girls have such great times together. I often wish that I could unschool but I have the next best thing, which is a school that is 60 seconds from my house! The whole waking up and dragging my child out of the house would put me in a foul mood for the day. Poor you!!

The Mulligan Family said...

A perfect description of "a day in the life". I wish I could say it gets easier - my son is 14. They still argue and say they don't want to go to school. There are so many more interesting and exciting things to do at home!

Hang in there Kim. I'll toast to you tonight when I pour my "big honkin' glass of wine!"

Mommy Lisa said...

Yea- my life since the baby was born and I had to go back to work after maternity leave - four years this March.

Good luck.

famdoz said...

I really love your ability to catch the nuance in the everyday. Great little slices of life.

Planet Mom said...

OMG. You are impossibly hilarious. I loved stepping into your crazy, mixed-up, infinitely wonderful world for a time. Don't second guess yourself. You truly are "getting it right." It doesn't have to look right to "be right."