April 23, 2006 


Spring Breakdown 

“Hey mom, where can we keep this worm?” 

“Hey mom, are we staying outside allllllll day?” 

“Hey mom, do we have any cups with lids so the bugs stay out?” 

“Mom, want me to read this to you?” 

“Hey mom, what’re we gonna do today?” 

“Hey mom, do bee stings hurt really?” 

“Mom!  Watch this!” 

“Hey mom, she bet me a dollar the scooter wasn’t working and it’s NOT and now she won’t give me a dollar!” 

“Hey mom, it’s hot out here, can we bring a fan outside?” 

Seriously.  I’m lucky if sixty seconds goes by before another question, declaration, or plea is uttered.  By four o’clock yesterday when my husband got home I swear my eyes were rolling around in my head and I could barely speak coherently.  He took one look and backed away slowly with his arms raised, signaling the kids to follow him out the door.  Fifteen minutes later, after raising one’s bicycle seat and suiting the other up for use of the electric scooter, he returned with a touch of the googly-eyed look himself.  Fifteen minutes!  Try it for nine hours buddy.   

I like the idea of spring break.  I love to sleep in a bit, love not having to get the kids in bed right on time every night, love not having to supervise homework, etc.  It’s all great in theory, but wow.  In practice it’s a bit …trying.  It’s not like I’m truly shoving them outside for the day, all day every day.  Monday we did a little family day trip that was mostly kid oriented.  Tuesday we spent all afternoon at the park.  We’ve been taking a walk or bike ride at some point every day.  Wednesday they had a friend over for most of the afternoon.  Thursday we met their dad for lunch and then I put them through the excruciating trial of a trip to Target.  You’d have thought it was killing them, not being able to be outside with their friends for ninety minutes.  Then we get home and the friends aren’t around so surprise, surprise, no one wants to go out anymore.  Then, there is the squabbling.  Two girls, and they're always either the best of friends or the worst of enemies.  At the moment one is watering the captive worm while the other reads poetry aloud from the swing set (not kidding).  It's either sunshine and roses (or rather, poetry and worms) or practicing to try out for a part in the third grade production of Bring It On.  The index finger can go from tracking along the poem page to waving in the air or resting on the hip in a millisecond.  It’s mind-boggling.   

I’ve been interrupted eighteen times since I started this, but this latest requires that I interrupt myself, because you will not believe this one!  My youngest finished reading the poem she picked out for her sister, and brought the book over here to tell me she had a short one to read to me.  She's such a smart little cookie placing emphasis on the “short” aspect of it.  She’s reading a poetry book, which I figure I’m supposed to encourage, so I say, “sure, go ahead”.  Here is what she read to me: 

Mother’s Nerves 

My mother said, If just once more
I hear you slam that old screen door,
I’ll tear out my hair!  I’ll dive in the stove!”
I gave it a bang and in she dove. 

-x.j. Kennedy 

I swear I couldn’t make this stuff up.  So, either my attempts to cover all the inner sighing and longing glances at the door have been in vain, or this is a huge coincidence.  Who writes that kind of poem for kids anyway?  Obviously ol’ x.j. is bitter over his name being Xavier or something even less cavalier sounding.  Oh, oh, isn’t it cute?  Little Xavier finally managed to drive his mother to the point that the oven looks like the only option for some peace and quiet.  Ha, ha.  Pfft.  Poor woman’s brain was probably already cooked anyway.  I know mine’s been marinating for about nine years now.  You think you can’t wait for them to open those little lips and speak but before you know it they’re writing poetry about driving you insane, or reading it to you with glee, whichever. 

They were circling about, asking a million questions about why I wanted to hold on to the poetry book for a minute (“To copy that poem into a column about how I can’t wait for you to go back to school!”  No, I didn’t.) and I feared some sort of revolt or demonstration right here on the deck, but then the neighbor girl showed up and they had a more worthy target of conversation.  I should send her flowers.   

Oh, and *who* thought up the idea of children having a week off directly following being handed baskets full of candy?  At Halloween last year I tried the “just let them eat it all and be done with it” theory and frankly; I’m a believer.  I used to spend weeks answering the “Can I have a piece of candy after dinner?” query and really, what for?  To ensure the sugar level stays steady for weeks at a time?  Last year, I told them to take their bags in their room and have at it.  They spent the first day double-checking that they weren’t supposed to ask first before popping a sweetart.  Then they spent the next day *telling* me about everything they tried and when they tried it.  Then the novelty wore off and they ate what they wanted, threw the rest away and we were clear of Halloween candy in under a week.  Maybe two days of sugar highs, and that’s it.  May as well get it over with.  Today I declared the Easter candy done by the end of the day.  What’s left gets tossed.  So they’re happily handing it out to friends, family, passing squirrels, and by tomorrow I won’t have to order them to pick up wrappers any more.  Candy holidays suck though, the gift that keeps on giving.  Bubble gum bubbles popping in hair, wrappers *everywhere*, sugar induced rants (those are from me – if they’re gonna leave it on the counter…do they think I won’t eat it?), and ants fighting to find a way in to what must be the source through which all sucrose enters the U.S. – the Mercurio household. 

Normally I’d try to end this on a high note.  A little lesson learned, a reminder that it’s all worth it, or something.  But uh, I’ve got nothing for you (except bad grammar).  Hey, maybe the stove isn’t all bad though, there’s a light in there and you could take a book; I’ll bet it’s quiet.  Nobody says you have to turn it on.  Take their candy with you!  That’ll give them something to talk about. 

Take care all!



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