i’m living vicariously through other people’s vacation photos. the most exciting thing that happens in my day is ruth poops in the real potty instead of her plastic kiddie one so i can just flush the whole deal down into the sewer instead of mess with spray cleaner, inhaling the mist into my throat, choking, accidentally splashing myself with toilet water. that whole scene. whoo hoo. pass me a noise maker and some confetti. seriously.
the cat is sleeping on the changing table and joel has cat fur plastered to his desitin butt. “move!” damn cat. ruth decided to paint her nails with glitter nail polish and then wipe some of the excess on her brother’s leg. awesome. now joel has sparkly nail polish dried onto his leg. “hi, joel! hi! hey, baby brother! how’re you doing?! what, ruth? yeah, i’ll come play doctor’s office with you. right now? in your room? wait, who’s getting a c section? that sounds serious…” poor joel.
ruth starts preschool in two or so weeks. “i need to buy a new phone. why? ’cause this one doesn’t ring and i need to hear it ring when the preschool calls me up forty five minutes after i drop ruth off to come and get my kid ’cause she won’t stop screaming in the corner. what’s that? give her a chance? how about “be realistic”?” i say, “hey, ruth, guess what? no one is going to help you eat when you’re at preschool. hey, ruth, no one is going to respond to your whining voice at preschool. in preschool, you have to use your big kid voice. you have to use your words and ask for things. you have to listen and do what you’re supposed to.” blah. blah. blah.
hey, i got it, let’s make a game out of doing laundry. wiping down the table. organizing your books. c’mon. it’ll be fun. or, hey, i’m gonna pretend i’m playing with you, but i’m actually cleaning up this play room which hasn’t been touched by a vacuum in months and has sticky spider’s webs in every crevice with little dried up dead bug bodies all caught in them. i’m gonna say “uh-huh” a lot, and “isn’t that interesting?” when i’m actually ignoring you (example: one of the times ruth would be so much better off in a daycare or being looked after by a professional instead of left in my preoccupied hands).
one of these days i’m gonna figure out what to do when you hit me. i swear. just give me a few months of research and reading…just hold on. you’ll see. i’ll have the perfect response to that….in just….a…little…..while……then, oh, then. my response will be so good. just you wait. it’s going to be the perfect mix of tough love and reasoning and boundary-setting and self-esteem building. oh, it’s gonna be good. you’ll see. i’m gonna say and do just the right thing to turn you into a thoughtful, caring, and respectful little person who will grow up to have a rosy but down to earth outlook on life, to believe you are the most capable beautiful person. trust me, when you hear this response, when you feel my parental love rain down upon you as i deliver these consequences, you’re gonna be changed forever. you’re never gonna have an eating disorder or settle for relationships that are unhealthy for you. you’re going to be confident and well-spoken and articulate all because of this crazy good parenting i’m about to pull. just let me get my bearings. just hold on and you’ll never take up bad habits because you’ll freakin’ value yourself way too much once i get through with you. eat egg while omlets and shit. not shit, i mean. “stuff like that” is what i meant. until then, i guess i’ll just stand here, stupidly, slack-jawed. and maybe give my eyes a little look of disapproving. here, does this do anything for you? no?
“c,mere, brother. lemme hold you. you’re so chunky and fat and i love you so much i’m gonna just pinch your face off….what’s that, ruth? you wanna do what? play “office lady”? right now? in the basement. ok, hold on, let me load the brother into his bouncy seat.” poor joel.
i tell ruth if she doesn’t let me brush her teeth, she’ll have to wear dentures like uma. well, it’s true! i try to give her a lot of choices. “do you wanna brush your teeth now or in five minutes?” “ten minutes,” she says, leveling me with her gaze. “right-o,” i say. and then, “wait, that’s not a choice. i give the choices. you’re giving me the choices. that’s not supposed to happen. five minutes then.” like it even matters. who is really keeping track of the time? then, “shall i brush your top or bottom teeth first?” “bottom.” i go to do it. “NO! i said TOP!” “ok, ruth, if you don’t lemme brush ’em, i’m gonna leave and then you’re gonna have to get dentures like uma.” “TOP!” fine. brush, brush, brush and all is right with the world. “now, do you wanna brush your hair or should i….” oh, i could just shoot myself.
that’s what things are like these days.