Time Troubles

Our house, though full of nerds and future nerds, seems to have some trouble with the concept of time.  We desperately need some tutoring.  Where is Stephen Hawking when you need him? Oh no, Stephen, just…….no.

Let’s move on, shall we?

The boys are just learning about days and weeks and months.  To them, last night is still any time in the past though.  It is very cute to hear them use it.  It is not cute that they think all time is to be compacted in this manner.  For example, later means never.  As in, “You can have some chips later; 7am is not a good time for that kind of snack.” This translates to, “You will never have chips ever, and I’m never buying anymore ever again.”  Then there is crying.

They have this great clock that tells them the time via color change.  I am about to throw it into the Baltic Sea.  Blue means sleep, and yellow means you CAN be awake, though you are welcome to sleep much longer.  Alex loves to come into my room and ask me when the clock will be yellow thus defeating the need for my involvement in wake-time-appropriateness.  Also, now that they know their numbers and are such smarties, when I tell them the clock will be yellow in 10 minutes, they say, “Okay, I’ll wait until it gets to the 10.”  Then I have to go into the whole spiel about how that’s not really what that means.  Then I’m teaching them to tell time, and I don’t want to do any teaching before breakfast.

Well, it's yellow now, so please, let's run around until someone falls.

We have never been on time to school.  I have no idea how long it takes to get us dressed and ready it seems.  Or, more likely, time likes to mess with me and skip ahead when I’m not looking.

Another problem is the concept of ‘in a minute’.  I take full responsibility for this being wacky.  See, I tell them ‘in a minute’ about 132 times a day.  I generally mean, “Leave me alone.  I’ll deal with your petty problems when there’s blood involved.”  Or, “Play Matchbox cars with you? Um, why don’t you start playing without me in hopes that you’ll forget you asked me?” And often, “I’ll help you/clean you up/find your blue Lego piece/play car wash with you in a minute.”  I intend to be good to my word.  Then, my ADD happens.  Or something explodes.  Or my presence is required in the bathroom.  (Only 1 person in this house can use the toilet without me.  Thankfully, that’s my husband, Michael.)

And finally, we wrestle with the concept of patience.  I’d like my boys to respect my time by having more.  I tell them that being patient means waiting without complaining or crying or asking me 1089 times when I will be in your room to see the coolest wooden block structure ever.  You’d think that since they have always had a sibling, they’d know about waiting.  That would be a no.  A huge no.  Their wee little brains just get an idea and keep at it.  I have no idea where they get this single-minded excitement.  Ahem…

On the other hand, I expect them to do what I ask or tell them to do RIGHT NOW.  No, you may not finish taping together pieces of shredded paper before you go potty.  I’m ready now!  And dear Lord, please hurry up brushing your teeth so I can put you to bed and watch Survivor.  So, um, yeah, a bit of hypocrisy.  My time is sometimes more important than theirs.  Right?

I mean, if we don’t hurry, how will we make it to school on time?  Seriously, we’re gonna do it tomorrow.

Waking Kids To Put Them To Bed

Last night I continued my Herculean ( I can use this adjective because I have almost no help here, and my kids have not been to school due to illness.) task of solo-parenting the boys while my husband is in Israel for 12 days.  We don’t say ‘single parent’ because this makes the real single parents annoyed.  See, I have the support of my spouse even though it is long distance. This support includes Facebook pictures of the beer he drinks every night as well as sweet phrases like, “I’m sorry the children seem to have the plague, but I gotta go to bed so I can tour Jerusalem tomorrow.”*

Anyway, last night was night 6 of putting the boys to bed by myself. It kind of ends the day on a rough note. I mean rough for the kids because I tend to yell when they are not following directions and are thus delaying my precious alone time.  By night 2, I was already planning to drop a few steps the next night. I was sure I’d end up with my kids just crashing on the floor whenever they ran out of batteries instead of any formal getting-ready-for-bed shenanigans.

So, last night around 7:30, I started the routine.  (The routine is super cool when Daddy is gone because it involves medicine! Some of which we spit out!)  Both boys need drops in their ears and have to lay still for 10 minutes on each side.  We did the first side and made it through the almost second by second cries of, “Am I done yet?”  Then, I put them on the other side and ran away went to do chores.  I came back 10 minutes later to this:

It seems I made them a little too comfortable.

So, I have 2 kids who have been attached to me like barnacles for 5 days finally asleep and peaceful.  But, I can’t leave them that way of course; that would be too easy.  Small children cannot crash on the couch all night. Right?  Right.

I begin the process of waking them to put on pajamas, finish medicine, and hopefully go to bed without reading books because I really want to pretend I’m going to stay up and watch TV but really fall asleep with my Kindle in my hand.  I gently say sweet mother things and caress their angel cheeks.  Nothing.  Louder, more insistent cajoling follows and is also ignored.  I take flash photography.  Still nothing.

I Tweet my predicament because that always helps nothing, and then decide to do the tough way.  I will dress them while they sleep.  I have abandoned hope of administering medicine as it is now 8:15, and I have grown happy with the quiet.  Jack is first and turns out to be pretty easy.  He seems awake and amenable to getting dressed and properly put to bed.  I get his pajamas on him, and he immediately flops over to the other side and resumes deep sleep.

Jammies? What jammies? I know nothing of the events that lead to jammies.

I assume (incorrectly) that my success with Jack will be repeated with Alex.  It is not.  I start taking his pants off, and he resists, as naturally you would if you were sound asleep and someone came after your clothes.  He is very strong for his size.  I am very weak for mine.  He wins and gets some super helpful sarcasm about how I’m trying to help him.  I tell him we must get into bed.  He demands books.  I have decided to die on the no-books-tonight hill and tell him, “No!”  He bursts into tears and begins his death cough.  This is the worst coughing fit he has had all day.  He can barely breathe.  It is very sad.  I resume kind mommy voice and calm him down.

My next hurdle is getting them to go to the bathroom without waking them up so much that the book fuss begins again.  I carry Alex to the bathroom and ask him to do his business.  He says he’d rather do books first.  I resume battle stance and make him cry again.  Then I tell him his crying is why he’s coughing, and he answers like a teenager with, “I know that!”

So, I leave him to compose himself and get the sack o’ Jack.  Once in the bathroom, I prop him up, take down his pants, and aim him.  He does as instructed with nary a word or fluttered eye.  I carry him to bed and tuck him in.  He meekly asks about stories, but I stay strong.

By this time, Alex is calm and too tired to fight.  I get him to use the toilet and get tucked into bed.  I sing.  I leave.  I fall asleep the second my butt hits my bed.

Moral of the story?  I’m crabby as a solo parent.  Also?  Let sleeping kids lie.

*My husband is actually very worried about me and the boys, especially since they are sick.  He really wishes he could be here, but it is a good thing that he gets this opportunity for work.  I do not want him sitting in the hotel being sad; I’m glad he gets to eat out for dinner and tour a little bit.  Mostly.

If you’d like to read more about a woman trying to parent alone when clearly a partner is needed, my friend Vikki over at Up Popped A Fox was also solo these past 2 weeks and hilarity and abandoning grocery shopping due to rudeness ensued.

Sleep, Interrupted

My twins will be 4 in November.  Please do not ask me if they sleep through the night.  I have twitched with anxiety about this question since the day they were born.  When asked by strangers, it seems like a little test of your parenting abilities.  As if I can MAKE my kids sleep well.  When your friends ask, they are hoping the answer is ‘yes’ so that you’ll finally get some rest and stop being a bitch.

Well, as it turns out, my kids really aren’t the sleep all night kind of boys.  I know that ‘sleep through the night’ doesn’t necessarily mean 12 hours of uninterrupted snoozing, but I’d kill for just 6 or 7.  With two, and with our recent move, it seems like 3 or 4 hours is the max.  Add in my very vivid dreams, (Some day I will tell you about the buffalo that got on my bed in the hotel and vomited on my clothes.  This was the least weird part of that dream.) and what you have is a person who is living on too little sleep.

So cute! So sleeping!

The boys do not wake for long every night.  Just enough to wake me up real nice.  Here is a transcript of one of the twin’s contribution to my sleep problems last night (I’m keeping his name out of this to protect him from being unfairly labeled as a sleep-disruptor.):

Child: “Mommy!…..Moooooommmmmyyy!”

Me: (Immediately awake.  Not super happy.  Shuffle to kids’ room.) “Yes sweetie?”

Child: “I want to go to the other side.”

Me: (Sure, I totally need to help you roll over.  Lift blankets.  Watch kid roll over.  Lower blankets.  Leave.  Back under my covers for approximately 5 seconds.)

Child: “Mommy!Mommy!Mommy!”

Me: (Huge passive-aggressive sigh I hope my sleeping spouse will hear.  Shuffle back to kids’ room.) “What?”

Child: (Pauses to think of a reason he needs me.) “Mommy?  I love you.”

Me: (Well played son, well played.) “I love you too.” (Back to bed for about 1 microsecond.)

Child: “MOMMY!”

Me: (Angry shuffling back to kids’ room.) “WHAT?!?!?”

Child: “When we wake up, can I watch a TV show?”

Me: “Sure.  Please stop calling for me.”

Child: “Okay Mommy.”

Me: (Standing outside kids’ door just in case.  You won’t trick me this time young one.  Nothing.  Okay, safe to get back in bed.)

Child: “Mommy! Mommy!…………………………Mommy!!!!!!”

Me: (Are you f’ing kidding me?  Very angry shuffling to kids’ room.) “What do you want!?!?!?”

Child: “I need to go potty.”

Me: (Mother F’er.  Scoop child up.  Try to let his soft hair under my chin make me less angry.  Go in bathroom.  Turn on lights.  Wince.)

Child: “My eyes hurt!”

Me: (Really?  My soul hurts.  Deal with it.) “I know honey; it’s hard to turn the lights on after being in the dark.”

Child: (Does his thing.)

Me: (Carry Child back to bed.)

Child: “I can’t see.”

Me: (sigh) “It’s okay; you’re going back to sleep now anyway.”  (Right?  Tuck beautiful boy back in bed.  Pray he stays there quietly.  Back to bed.  Please, God, for good.  A good minute goes by…success!)

Child: “Mommy?  Mommy!”

Me: (*&$$%@#%$^%&&^ Back to kids’ room. ) “You have to stop calling for me.  What do you want?!?!?!?”

Child: “Mommy, will you get a chair and sit in my room until I fall back asleep.”

Me: “No.  I am so tired I can’t remember which kid you are.  Please, don’t call me back in here or I will wake up crabby.”

Child: (Totally gets it now.) “I won’t Mommy.”

Me: (Back in bed.  Praying really hard this time.  It works!)

So, that’s what I’m doing at 1:30 am in case you are wondering.  I know the boys are not trying to make me insane.  They are good, sweet boys.  I know this too shall pass.  Or, I’ll die from tired.  Either one.