what means an extra hour of sleep to some means an extra hour, what seems like five extra hours, of life with my two kids alone. that translates roughly into joel waking at 5 am instead of 6 am. ruth was up and demanding her elmo costume (her daily casual attire since halloween) by 7 am. and greg would not be home until 5:15 pm (and not a second after). it was, needless to say, one long and endless day. i was eating lunch by 9:30 and by the time i got both kids bundled, packed into the car and took them to the park for a solid hour of frigid swinging and sliding, it was still only just 1 pm. and that was after i had ruth help me do two loads of laundry and hang them in the basement ( another tantrum avoidance tactic: keep ’em busy), after she watched an elmo movie while snacking on breakfast foods as i did the dishes from the night before and then played with joel on the floor. how could one extra hour seem to stretch out my day sooo much??
that was one extra hour of us arriving to the park and as soon as ruth went down a single slide that had water in the bottom, she started screaming bloody murder and demanding we go back home, running to the car and banging on the door to get in like she was fleeing from a tsunami. “ruth,” i reasoned, “you’re only just a wee bit wet. it’ll dry…” luckily i was able to talk her out of her frenzy, distract her with something and she snapped out of it before we had to call it quits.
that was one extra hour of ruth demonstrating how she likes to drink water from my water bottle. “like this!” she yelled as she snatched the bottle from me as we sat thawing in the car after playing at the park, me preparing to hydrate with said bottle just moments before. she proceeded to take a big swig and then spit it back into the bottle and then continued to do so, breathing my precious, joint-lubricating water into and out of her cracker-coated mouth like air. she started laughing maniacally like it was just about the funniest shit ever, and then handed it back to me. i looked in. floating cracker bits as big as your pinky fingernail. well, i supposed i wouldn’t die of dehydration before we made it back home. i sealed it up and placed the bottle with a thunk into the cup holder.
that was one extra hour of playing “allah’s birthday party” which is where we get ready for a birthday party of one of her dolls named allah by rearranging all of the living room furniture and doing other odd jobs like baking a cake, making salad and doing dishes. everything has to be just so and ruth is, of course, you guessed it, the coordinator behind it all. i try to make different suggestions, but i am not the party planner, and she usually vetos most of what i offer, having a very specific way in mind that everything must go. joel usually just sits nearby grabbing at whatever’s within reach and gnawing on it. that’s just fine as long as it’s not something ruth decides she desperately needs at that moment, which would be most if not all of her toys. and sometimes his too.
make that an extra hour of ruth taking off all of the cushions from our couch and turning the entire living room into her own personal olympic event, running, jumping, and adding a flair here and there, the brother narrowly avoiding being maimed, but staring fixedly upon his sister bounding about. to him, she is a star and everything she touches is gold. he doesn’t even realize something’s amiss when she comes at him caressing him somewhat violently with a mixture of affection, sibling rivalry and a deep passionate jealousy. he sits there with a dopey grin on his face as she grits her teeth and strokes his neck, looking like she might try and strangle him any second. poor joel.
add to that the fact that, by the time greg gets home the light is already fading outside and we are all trapped inside our tiny house together and you’ve got a recipe for insanity.
it’s gonna be a long winter.