Dammit. Damn. It.
It’s 18h10. Which means that I must feed them, make them school lunch, check that their school bags are packed, check and sign homework, bath them, brush teeth and read stories. Eighty minutes is ample time. I should make it.
The feeding session goes relatively well. Both subjects are hyperactive, so there are more plyometrics than I’d like, but they eat well (even the kale) and after only 16 requests, they clear the table and stack the dishwasher. So far, so good. Subject 2 (the small one) spills his water. Subject 2 always spills something. I am undeterred.
I opt to multitask and make school lunch while they are (allegedly) packing school bags. This will extend my evening by at least fifteen precious minutes, which translates into about a third of an episode of The Good Wife. School lunch is an algorithm. This one likes salted cashews; that one likes raw almonds. This one is gluten-intolerant; that one doesn’t do well with dairy. This one won’t eat anything wet; that one only likes green apples with absolutely zero bruises.
But this is not my first rodeo. I nail school lunch.
“What do I have tomorrow?’”
(Pause) I am thrown.
There is a laminated schedule on the fridge. It’s in Excel. And colour-coded. Both subjects have whiteboards in their bedrooms with all of the required intel. I compose myself and respond.
“Hockey Love. Don’t forget your gum guard.” (postscript – Love forgot it)
18h41 “Please leave your homework on the table and go and bath.”
18h44 “Boys, please go and bath.”
18h49 “Boys! How many times do I have to ask you? Go and bath!”
By 19h15, things are unraveling. Subject 1’s homework is a crime scene. The handwriting is barely legible and there is almost no punctuation. Either my son is ee cummings or we have a problem. The boys are fighting in the bath – Subject 1, impulse control non-existent, is annoying the shit out of Subject 2, who has the emotional fortitude of a 15 year old girl.
Defcon 3: Threats
“If the two of you are not properly washed and out of this bath in 5 minutes, there is no story tonight. And scrub those feet! And I double dare you to leave your towels on the floor. And pick up your school clothes and put them in the wash. I’m tired of asking the same thing every single night. And Liam – your homework is a hot mess. Get into pyjamas and come downstairs and redo it!”
The homework throws us off schedule. It’s 19h46. They are now late for bed and I am anxious and shrill. They’ll be exhausted tomorrow and moreover, they’re now eating into my Series & Wine time (ie. the only time of day when nobody wants anything from me).
“I am so hungry.”
Subject 2. Little bastard.
“You can’t be hungry. You just ate.”
“I barely ate anything and I am completely starving and my stomach literally has a hole in it and there is no way I can sleep like this.”
I am frothing on the inside. But I play Zen Mamma.
“Go and get a banana and come back upstairs to brush teeth.”
19h51 “Have you packed your bags for tomorrow boys?”
Subject 2 affirmative. Subject 1 not so much.
That’s it. Defcon 5: Guilt Trip
“I have asked you 4 times to pack your bag! I have printed you schedules! I have spent the last hour and a half trying to get you to bed on time so that you’re not exhausted tomorrow! I also have things to do and I am so, so tired…”
Oh dear G-d I am my mother.
The difference is that Young Me would have actually felt guilty and gone to bed. Not my kids. No Siree Bob.
Dehydration. Frantic need to poo. Anxiety about Hitler from school English book. Negotiations for stories. Questions about the afterlife. Growing pains. And my personal favourite – a deep dive into the school day, which I had asked about at 14h30 en route home and was met with 2 ‘fines’ and a ‘nothing’.
By the time I finish tidying and showering and rechecking school bags and unpacking the dishwasher and putting the pugs away and locking up, it’s well past 9. I should make tea and read a book and have an early night. But Julianna Margulies beckons and I spend a long evening watching the Good Wife and drinking 2 delicious glasses of Pinot Noir, making myself feel better by climbing into some admin simultaneously.
Just after 12, I call it a day and go check on the punks. The room smells like love and little boys. I kiss their sweet foreheads, damp from sweating under their duvets, and promise to be more patient tomorrow.