Thursday, May 2, 2013

The Poison Cookies


This is the last thing I said to my girls tonight before they finally fell asleep:

"YOU DON'T NEED TO WORRY ABOUT MONSTERS IN YOUR ROOM!  THE ONLY MONSTER YOU NEED TO WORRY ABOUT IS ME!  DON'T YOU DARE MAKE ME COME IN THERE AGAIN!"

  

That was right after they started screaming when I slammed the door to their bedroom, at the tail end of the five hours of continual torture they inflicted upon me.

You know how you're not supposed to go to bed angry at your spouse?  I guess you're probably not supposed to go to bed angry at your kids either.

Well, I haven't gone to bed yet, so there's still some hope, I guess.

I don't think it was me this time.  I really don't.

Well, it wasn't my preexisting emotional state, anyway.  I had had a pretty good day.  I got stuff done around the house, including about a million loads of laundry, which seemed to have made my wife happy.  I had gotten the house straightened out and the kids fed lunch just in time for our twice-monthly visit from the cleaning ladies.  I tended the garden, fed the animals, and made it to the gym with the kids in tow.  I even managed, with the kids pestering me and the cleaning ladies vacuuming under my feet, to work with an editor on some changes to a forthcoming article I'm pretty stoked about.

But at around 4:30 pm, I fucked up.  Bad.

The kids were playing nicely with each other, running upstairs and downstairs and out the back door onto the deck.  We had talked about going scootering or doing some other wholesome outdoor activity, but I was a little spent, and it seemed like they were getting plenty of exercise.  I figured, you know--snack time, maybe some reading, and then Mom would be home with leftovers she had scored from a drug rep lunch at work.  Then slide right through the bedtime rituals and bam, done.

I thought about the fresh strawberries in the fridge for a snack, but we had been eating them by the pint for the last few weeks.  I glanced at the apples, oranges, and avocados on the counter but was uninspired.  And then I remembered the chocolate-covered graham crackers that Mom had bought on an impulse as a special treat for the kids.  I had been strictly warned against eating any myself, but of course I had ignored the exhortation.

They were strong medicine, these cookies.  They weren't really chocolate-covered graham crackers as much as they were rich milk chocolate bars with a crunchy, graham cracker center.  It was like the Swiss take on a Kit-Kat.  It took all the restraint I could muster to not plow through the whole bag during my midnight raid.

What the hell, I thought.  The kids have been pretty good today, I can't give them the cookies after dinner because the chocolate will jack them up for bedtime, and, most importantly, they might share them with me.

The kids didn't dilly-dally when I announced that they would be having the special cookies for snack time.  And they didn't share with their old man either.

Remember, maybe it was in college, that one girl?  She was really nice and kind of funny and cute?  But after the fourth shot of vodka, to which she was clearly unaccustomed, she became erratic, and then irritable, and then weepy, and then angry, and then weepy again, and then FURIOUS, and everyone was like, whose friend is she againCan somebody call her roommate?

That's what both of my children turned into after eating these cookies.  As I tried to fold laundry, they stamped around in the water they had poured into a large puddle on the deck, and then tracked it inside, onto the freshly-mopped floor.  Then they stomped around in the freshly-scoured bathtub with their filthy, wet feet.

I used to worry that losing my temper and yelling at the kids would emotionally scar them; but now I just worry that it's completely ineffectual.

I yelled at them from upstairs, and then ran downstairs to continue yelling at them from close range when the initial yelling didn't have any effect.  When my back was turned, they filled the bathroom sink with soapy water and slung it around the bathroom, and laughed in my face as I yelled and hid the handsoap from them.

As I cleaned up the mess in the bathroom, they tore the living room couch apart and used the cushions as a slide, a trampoline, and a "pile of rocks."

Mom came home, dropped off the food she had brought from work, and then headed out to her crossfit class.

At dinner, one kid wouldn't keep her hand out of her milk glass.  The other refused to eat with the fork I had given her because she didn't like the color, and instead shoveled rice into her face (and down her dress, onto the floor, etc.) with her hands.  All I could think to do was withhold the food until they calmed down.  Forks were thrown.  Threats were hurled, and ignored.

Somehow, we got through dinner without a visit from CPS.  Mom returned and helped with bedtime preparation, but then took off to pick up provisions at Target.

Bedtime can be tricky under the best circumstances, but, now that the poison cookies had turned the twins into volatile middle-school students with the self-expression skills of toddlers, I didn't know what to expect.

I should have expected the worst, because that's what I got.  Maddy has started doing this thing where, every time the cleaning ladies come, she won't sleep under the covers of her bed because she doesn't want to mess up the smooth bedspread and hospital corners that Lupe and Company have created.  It's a problem.  And tonight, Livvy started playing the same game.  Add to that their demands that Daddy take turns lying in bed with them, and you've got a recipe for an unstable trained chimp turning on his masters.

"Sleep with me, Daddy!"

"No, Daddy!  Sleep with ME!"

"Not on top of the covers, Daddy!  YOU MESSED UP MY BED!  BLAAAAAAHHHH!  SMOOTH IT OUT DADDY!  SMOOTH IT OUT!

"IT'S MY TURN, DADDY!  SLEEP WITH ME, DADDY!  No, Daddy!  Get under the covers.  AAAAAAAGGGGGGHHH!  YOU MESSED UP MY BED!  SMOOTH IT OUT!  SMOOTH IT OUT!"

"I have to go to the bathroom."

"I need water."

"I can't find my ballerina doll's shoeswaaaAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!"

This continued for twenty minutes, until finally:

"THAT'S IT!  I CAN'T DO THIS ANYMORE!  I DON'T WANT TO HEAR ANYTHING ELSE ABOUT YOUR BLANKETS AND DOLLS AND LOVIES AND CRAP!  GO TO SLEEP!  GOOD NIGHT!"

 

[Exits bedroom, slams door.]

Then came the wailing about being scared of monsters, the rejoinder from Dad, more wailing, sobbing, snuffling, and at last, slumber.

I'm not actually mad at my kids.  I went into their room and kissed their cheeks as they slept, just as peacefully as a couple passed-out drunks in a boxcar.  I'm disappointed in my poor judgement this afternoon, and my terrible attempts at damage control.  But I've forgiven myself, and I have high hopes for tomorrow.  Especially since the kids will be in school all day.  
            




18 comments:

  1. Whoa. Sounds like a rough day. Don't beat yourself up too much. Things like that happen. Good on you though. I can barely keep up with one. If I had two of him, I'm pretty sure our house would have been turned into a hole in the ground eight months ago...

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  2. If I haven't yelled at my kids at least once a day then something's not right in an alternate universe.

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  3. Don't feel bad! I yell sometimes too. It's their fault. They bully us into it.

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  4. I noticed a "who's" where there should've been a "whose." It's my special gift.

    I always feel guilty when I yell at the children, and I only see them a couple hours a day (instead of your all day experiences), so I feel like a real piece of shit when it happens. However, even I know not to feed them poison cookies in the late afternoon. What are you, a rookie?

    Enjoy your day "off" while they're in class tomorrow !

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    Replies
    1. Fixed! Thanks for proofreading. I was way more mortified by that error than by my poor parenting.

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  5. "I used to worry that losing my temper and yelling at the kids would emotionally scar them; but now I just worry that it's completely ineffectual."

    Yes. I find that my yelling is much less effective vs my husbands less often and much louder yell. I just need practice and timing I guess.

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  6. "Always kiss your children goodnight - even if they're already asleep."
    H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

    Somehow, regardless of how demonically possessed they seem throughout the day, there's something about the rising & falling of their breathing as they sleep that makes it all better.

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    Replies
    1. Yep. I halfway wished they would wake up in the middle of the night needing comfort after a bad dream or something, just so we I could put them back to bed on better terms.

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  7. I know now what you speak of. I am always calm and collected with my offspring, and never yell.
    Unless they are not at school or elsewhere, leaving me in there care for long stretches and they go psycho on me, tag-teaming to ensure my sanity gets no break. Then, all bets are off.

    Sounds like someone deserves all the leftover chocolate grahams.

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  8. All of this just from some chocolate covered graham cracker? If my boys reacted that way after every sweet they had, they would have certainly been taken away by child services by now. Moral give it to them more often so they can take it.
    I laughed and smiled in agreement when you said: "used to worry that losing my temper and yelling at the kids would emotionally scar them; but now I just worry that it's completely ineffectual."

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  9. Oh man. Been there. Done that. Glad we are all grown up now :)

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  10. My husband was out of town on business this week. I work full-time and we have four kids. By Thursday night, I was shot. Shot. So, I told the big kids to head to bed and I'd be in to sing and tuck them in when I was done putting their 2 year old brother to bed. "Just be quiet, please," was my parting comment. And as I rocked and sang to the baby, my voice kept getting louder in an effort to drown out the shrieks and squeals and laughter coming from the room of his two older brothers (ages 9 and 7) down the hall. Hard to convince a toddler that everyone else in the house is asleep and he should be, too, when he can hear them having a blast. So, by the time I finally got him to sleep, I stormed into their room like a wraith and told them there would be no songs, because any singing time was eaten up by the extra time it took me to get their brother to sleep. I kissed them good night and stormed out, back to my room. I lay down for 10 minutes, then went back down to their room to kiss them again (and probably sing them a song because I felt so guilty that the last words I had for them at bedtime were angry ones, and I should have been happy they were laughing and getting along, despite the inconvenient timing) but they were already sleeping and I was miserable for the rest of the night.

    I get it.
    http://amysreallife.com

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  11. Three is an evil, evil age.

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  12. Aaawwwwww maaaaaaan, is this what I have to look forward to when my daughter isn't two anymore?

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  13. Oh, how I love a house that runs like mine. In stitches and in sympathy.

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  14. You're a badass, and it's a good thing. I say own it. You have twins. YOU HAVE TWINS.

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  15. There's a line from the BBC version of Pride and Prejudice.
    "Let me feel the full effects of my mistakes, for the feeling will pass, and more than likely, much sooner than it should."
    Thanks for sharing. I too have seen the look on my eldest's face, after I've been the ogre I can be.
    We join start a club.

    Jason
    The Cheeky Daddy

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Don't hold back.

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