Yesterday was a snow day—again. I haven’t been keeping track, but I think we’re into the double digits by now, and school will be in session until the Fourth of July. I just couldn’t face rounding everyone up, releasing my car from its ice encasement and risking my life on treacherous roads just to end up in my cubicle, so I stayed home too. I thought it might be fun—a bonus day of playing, snuggling, reading and bonding.
It started out well—we played with the dollhouse, did puzzles, listened to music. I tried reading to M, but E and Z interrupted us every sentence. We watched Sesame Street and ate cream cheese and jelly sandwiches for lunch. After lunch, I got all inspired to make peanut butter cookies, which involved a lot of, “Why don’t I get a turn? There’s no place for me? Why do my brothers get to do everything? I want to do that! I can’t see!” from the verbal one and a shoving handfuls of dough and sugar into their mouths by the less verbal ones. After we put the cookies in the oven, I put on a movie in hopes that E and Z would fall asleep. They might have, if I had sat down and snuggled with them, but instead I took the opportunity to call a friend. They spent the whole time I was on the phone running around the house, getting into things they shouldn’t and getting hurt (I have read that “sugar makes you hyper” is a myth, but I’m not so sure).
I sat with them through the end of the movie, and then they got out some books, but M kept interrupted us every sentence with various questions and complaints (I’ve got to reread that part in Siblings Without Rivalry about how you give each kid your full attention and don’t let the other ones interrupt). I suggested that since he wasn’t at school that day, he should get out a book and read for 20 minutes or so, which went over like a baby in a bucket. He headed up to his room and E and Z and I sat down at the kitchen table to draw, which mostly involved them trying to sharpen the colored pencils, saying, “Mama codr (color),” and, when they got tired, coloring on the table and throwing pencils and markers across the room.
By this time I was reminded of a question on a form I filled out at a recent trip to a massage therapist, to whit: “Where in your body do you hold stress?” My response, “Yes.” I scanned my body for tension: forehead, eyebrows, forehead, ears, jaw, neck, shoulders, lungs, back, shoulders. I tried taking a couple of yoga, “breaths of fire,” much to E and Z’s amusement, but to little effect. We went in the livingroom and Z got out the big floor piano, which he and E immediately started to fight over. I held E on my lap for a time-in and Z went running across the piano, and fell flat on his face. I applied a cold washcloth to his split lip and put on the Muppet Show (is it starting to sound like we rely heavily on the TV-sitter?) and E and Z both started to doze off—it was after four by this time and way too late for a nap, so I kept tickling and blowing on them to keep them awake. M came downstairs and asked if we could watch a certain episode. “We’re watching this one now.” “But after this!” “After this will be dinner time and you’ve watched enough TV today.” “But my brothers have been watching this for like 11 minutes and I only just came down here and…” on and on and on.
I sometimes fantasize about staying home full-time with my kids, hanging out with the hip un-schooling mamas, teaching math through bread-baking and woodworking and knitting. I imagine us like those pictures in the Nova Naturals catalog, all dreamy and soft-focused and surrounded by hardwood and beeswax and wool. And then I have a day like this, when I literally do not get one moment to myself (unless I lock the bathroom door, in which case they stand outside pounding and wailing), and it’s too miserable to go outside, and M alternates between shutting himself in his room, fighting with his brothers or carping at me.