I apologize, World, if you happened to be in the vicinity of myself or my children today. You have my sincerest regrets.
5:30 a.m.: I open my bleary eyes to the insistent beeping of my husband's alarm clock. He drags himself out of bed, gets a shower, returns to the bedroom and rouses me again for a quick kiss good-bye. He's traveling to D.C. today for a business training session.
I'm alone with three kids. Should be a typical day, but it's not, 'cause Jordyn's got a Thanksgiving party and I'm supposed to help.
6:00 a.m.: I drag myself out of bed. I sleepily shake my cereal in the bowl, grab the orange juice and start to pour it on the cereal, realize what I'm doing, return the orange juice to the fridge. I grab the milk. I mechanically spoon it down, shower, get dressed, brush my teeth. Now it's time to wake the kids.
7:00 a.m.: I shake my son awake. He pops up like he hasn't slept all night and cheerfully trots out to the kitchen. "I want toast with PLAIN butter, Mommy," he chirps, like one of those annoying crickets. Obviously, I'm not a morning person.
My oldest daughter is next. She's a bit more like me. I shake her, tickle her, pat her, wash her face with a cold washcloth. Eventually (after the washcloth), she pulls herself awake. In the shuffle, my 15-month-old wakes up, crying, needing to be changed.
Suddenly everything speeds up to hyper-speed. I feed my son his toast, at the same time change my youngest daughter's diaper, march my oldest daughter to the bathroom, squirm three wriggling bodies into a semblance of clothes, glance at the clock - need to leave at 8:00. Brush teeth, brush hair, find tangles in hair, yank on them with hairbrush, tangles don't come out, get out scissors and cut hair. Screaming, crying, "I don't WANT to go to school. I WANT to stay here. I WANT to go back to sleep!"
Drag all three kids out to the car, buckle, buckle, you buckle yourself back there, jump in the driver's seat and head down the driveway. Oh, the party. Back up the driveway, jump back out, run into the house, grab the 6 dozen cookies resting in several different trays to take for the party. Load them in the van, run back in and grab the juice boxes, run those out. Back in the van, buckle, down the driveway, to the school.
Get to the school, the bell will ring in five minutes. "Jordyn, can you help me carry some of these cookies in?" I eye the huge stack of containers. I really don't want to have to make three trips with three kids while carrying the 15-month-old.
"I don't want to." Pout, pout.
"Jordyn, straighten up right now. I need your help, please." I stick a tray in her hands. I reach in the van to get the next tray. Crash. The tray Jordyn was holding dumps all over the pavement. Cookie crumbs everywhere.
It's fine. The kids will just have to eat cookie crumbs. I suspect the crash was deliberate, but since my back was turned, I can't prove it. I let it go.
I pick up the tray, salvage what I can, give the tray to my middle child, who is surprisingly in his cheerful cricket mode. He holds it carefully.
I pick up the second tray, scold Jordyn for dropping the first tray and tell her to hold this one more securely. Shuffling the baby to one hip, I wrangle the juice boxes and two 9x13's and my diaper bag in the other arm. We head into the school. Just inside the door, the second tray slips out of Jordyn's hands. Crash. Cookie crumbs all over the carpet. My hands are full. I'm helpless. The principal (bless him) hurries over and helps scrape up what cookies haven't touched the floor. They go back on the tray, the rest go in the trash.
I deliver said cookies, brownies, juice boxes and oldest daughter to the classroom. My daughter is crying as I leave.
I stifle my desire to yell at... something. The other two kids and I head to Chick-Fil-A to kill time and let the boy run out his energy and cricket-ness on the playground. We pull into the parking lot.
"Mommy," my son suddenly sobs. "I don't want to pway on the pwayground. The slide has bumps and there's other kids."
"You're going to play on the playground," I say through my teeth. You're going to have fun, now, I mean it! Or else!
He plays. But his heart's not in it.
I load the kids up again and we head to the library. We unbuckle and head inside, where my son proceeds to empty a shelf of books while I'm trying to keep the baby on my hip and dig my library card out of my purse. The librarian waves it off and I get the book I have on hold. We're just finishing up, when I notice my son... standing behind the librarian, behind the counter. "Joel," I snap. "Get out of there." He grins at me and comes out from behind the counter. I am not amused.
We march back to the van, buckle up, head back to the school where I'm supposed to cheerfully help all the preschool kids with their Thanksgiving party. At this point, cheerful is about polar opposite of how I feel.
The party begins, I start to help the kids fill their plates. Joel busies himself in a corner, Elena chomps down some grapes. Jordyn's doing well sitting quietly at a table with the rest of the preschoolers. I begin to relax.
"Mommy." Joel tugs at my sleeve. He's no longer a cheerful cricket. Now he's crying. "I have a sore throat."
I glance nervously at a few of the other parents nearby. My son is contaminating your kids. Sorry. "Shh." I certainly don't want him broadcasting his sore throat. I do my best to quiet him. Elena calmly dumps the grapes all over the carpet.
It's show and tell time. Joel is excited. He wants to "play" too. When he realizes that Jordyn got to "show and tell" something and he didn't get to, he wails this high-pitched, keening cry that drives a needle straight up the spine into the brain and vibrates there. None of the 15 preschool students, or their parents, or the teacher, or me or anybody can hear themselves think. I take Joel out into the hallway. Elena begins to cry because she can't see me.
The teacher decides it's high time to take the kids outside to play on the playground. This starts out well, but ends in disaster as Joel decides he wants to go to an out-of-bounds place where the preschoolers are not allowed to go. When I pull him away, he does that horrible cry again... and doesn't stop. I can feel the flush starting in my chest and moving up my neck and onto my cheeks. My ears get hot and I'm sure the entire school is staring out the windows at my son... and his mother.
It's time to go in anyway. I wrangle my son and my two daughters back inside with the rest of the kids. Joel is still crying. Jordyn realizes it's time to leave, so she starts crying. Elena's naptime is coming up, so she starts crying. All three of the kids are shriek-screaming as we head for the door. Oops, forgot the leftover cookies.
I grab those, make a run for the door, pile them in the van, then run back into the classroom to retrieve my screaming trio. I apologize profusely to the poor teacher, who looks a little weary.
We get in the van, buckle and are ready to go. I breathe a sigh of relief as we pull out of the parking lot.
"Mommy!" Jordyn starts to cry again. "I forgot my teddy bear!"
Of course, she forgot her teddy bear. Why would anything go well today?
I stop the van, back up to the door, lock the van and grab the keys. No way am I unbuckling everyone to head back in to search for the lost teddy. I run into the school, back to the preschool room. The teacher looks... overjoyed (#sarcasm)... to see me. I explain the situation, and both of us do a quick hunt. Nothing.
Dreading the scene that will happen in the van as I explain the missing teddy, I return slowly to the vehicle. I open the door and do one last-ditch effort to find said teddy. I unzip Jordyn's bag... and there it is. "Jordyn!" I snap. "It's right there in the bag."
She looks at me calmly.
I get in the driver's seat and drive home. It's a quiet ride. I don't feel much like talking.