25 Apr I scream, you scream, we all scream because life is ridiculous
It all started when Danny stepped in poop.
“I told him to do it,” said Henry. “I said, go ahead, get in trouble.”
I was trying to clear the table after dinner and put food away and do dishes and make lunches, all while holding baby Ellie at the same time. My parents had just left after a full day of babysitting, and my husband Cory was at work. I was solo to work on this.
I went outside to assess the damage. He was standing there grinning devilishly, one shoe full of it. Some tracks from the doggy doo to where he was standing.
“Come here, Danny. I need to take your shoe off.”
He takes off running. I shout across the yard and then remember what I think of our across-the-backyard neighbors when I hear them shouting at their children. I speak in parentese, “No thank you! Please come back here.” He wipes his shoe on the lawnmower. I try to put Ellie down on the deck and ask Henry to make sure she doesn’t roll down the stairs. She screams. I pick her up again.
I give up and go inside. So there will be poop everywhere. I’ll deal with it later. I ask Henry to hold the door for me while I clear the outside table where we had dinner tonight and he says he feels like he’s my slave. I ask him who makes his dinner, who cleans up his dinner, who makes his lunch, who bathes him, who wipes his bottom, who washes his clothes, and he smirks.
I start on the dishes and he comes in to ask me why I’m not dealing with the poop situation. I can’t be everywhere, kid. I’ve got a baby who won’t let me put her down. I go inside. Then outside. I don’t know what to do about this. Inside again. Nurse Ellie. She’s calmer. Henry has to go potty. Okay. I pull the Rock & Play in to the bathroom and put Ellie in there and go outside to chase Danny down, yank his shoe off and do a cursory cleaning with a stick. I scoop up the doo and huck it behind a bush in the back.
The kids are all inside and I return to the dishes.
“No, Danny! Don’t do it!”
Next: Screams. Danny was threatening to throw Ellie’s toy in the toilet, and when Henry told him not to, he bonked her on the head with the toy instead. She was wailing. Neighbors be damned, I shouted at Danny to go to his room and tried to comfort Ellie. Then Danny’s wailing on the stairs because he’s in trouble and he wants his other shoe off.
Seconds later, Henry’s asking for me to help him wipe. Nope, kid. NOT NOW. He persists and after long minutes of whining I shout at him and he’s crying too.
Everyone is screaming. So I may as well join in. I scream too.
I think about Hypnobirthing and escaping from pain through the power of the mind. I remember the song that is my way to trigger my mental escape.
“Alexa, play If I could I would by Phish.”
I take a few deep breaths and, breastfeeding Ellie, walk over to Danny and take his shoe off, give him a one armed hug and say he doesn’t have to go upstairs.
“Oh, good idea. Not go upstairs,” he says.
I go and talk to Henry and try to guide him through how I’d be wiping him if I had use of my hands. He isn’t having it. He wants me to do it. He doesn’t like doing it the way I’m telling him to do it. I leave again. He cries again. Ellie’s calm. I put her down and help Henry.
“It seemed like you took forever to come,” he said. I talked to him about how, when there are three children, somebody always has to wait. Since he’s the biggest, he had to wait the longest. I hugged him and said I was the oldest kid too, and I know it’s not easy. He uses his words, and says “I feel like I’m not getting enough attention.”
We all have some screen time to decompress. Danny wants a popsicle, Henry wants a popsicle, Henry wants water, they both want popcorn, no, not that popcorn, the other popcorn, they’re crying over water, Ellie doesn’t want to be in the Jumperoo, she doesn’t want to be on the floor, she doesn’t want her brother to hold her. Henry wants me to play Minecraft with him but then he chases me around setting me on fire. Danny wants to watch the completely unwatchable show Dinosaur Train. My mom calls and offers to come back, but I’m too overwhelmed to even respond.
Having three kids is like trying to write with both hands. Two different essays. Also a third essay, with your foot. And also, everything is covered in poop.
And then it’s tubby time. Henry wants a shub (shower-tub; when you take a shower and leave the tub plugged so it accumulates) and I say fine, but Ellie can’t join them so they’re on their own. I bargain with him, extra storytime if he washes himself and Danny. I know I’m playing with fire a little here, but they’re both capable enough, and what’s the worst that can happen? Some splashing? The deal is on. I pull the shower curtain closed, go and take pictures of Ellie with her feet in her mouth being adorable, get her into jammies and nurse and rock her until she’s asleep.
Meanwhile, I hear the boys turn off the shower, hang out playing and laughing, get out of the tub, and Henry starts to read some books to Danny. I get absorbed in my phone and all is well.
Henry comes in peacefully to ask how much longer I’ll be and I say I can put Ellie down now.
“Good, because Danny pooped on the floor.”
I toss my phone, put her down and rush into their room.
“I cleaned it up.”
I’m stunned. I stand there for a few moments. So. Many. Questions. I don’t even know where to start, or what to do. I turn in circles a bit. Then pick Danny up and bring him into the bathroom, where the tub is filled to the brim. I put him in.
“I used a piece of cardboard. I stuck it in the poop. Then I dropped it a couple times.” I run back out to assess the situation.
“I cleaned that up too.”
I run to the cabinet for spray.
“I used soap to clean it up.”
I get a towel to go back into their room to work on a puddle I assume to be Dan-made.
“He peed on the floor. I cleaned that up, too.”
I go back into the bathroom where Dan’s in the tub and there’s water all over the floor and a few toys but, hey, no poop to clean up. Henry is watching me intently and he’s kind of nervous because I’m clearly acting super weird. I’m dazzled, I guess you could say. This feeling is a totally new feeling, my kid taking care of things, being good on purpose. I’m much more accustomed to him demanding everyone wait on him and having crying fits when things don’t go his way. This is a leveled-up kid.
So yes, I cried a little. I told him how proud I was. What a responsible, good big brother he is. I showered him in praise and promised an extra chapter, and it didn’t quite feel like enough to really show him what that meant to me. So I’m writing it down. Maybe he’ll read this someday.
Thanks, buddy. That was a good thing you did for your old mom.
I gotta go now. Ellie’s back up and she’s crying.