Here’s the song reference.
Before I get into the meat of this post, I would like to let everyone who inquired know that Bo lived his yesterday with great enthusiasm, trundling around the yard and eating anything that came within reach of his mouth, including most of Smudgie’s dinner. He’s done this miraculous turnaround enough times now that we are considering changing his name to Lazarus. The best working theory is that he suffered either another stroke or a seizure and needed the day to recover. Our whole family would like to thank everyone who offered a kind word or a prayer. The kindness of friends and strangers alike was a great blessing.
Yesterday was, however, the sort of day in which the effects of Monday’s stress came shining through. As saintly as all the tiny people had been on the day Bo was ailing, they were the opposite in like measure yesterday. Neither an instruction nor a meal came without arguments, sass, thrown missiles, or wailing. I was deeply grateful when Baby Guy put himself to bed for a nap after he ate about four bites of the lunch he had specifically requested, then cried, “NO NO NO NO NO,” over.
In self-defense, and to preserve the tattered remnants of both my sanity and my hearing, I turned on Netflix and settled in to watch a few episodes of Super Hero Squad with Bugaboo, Beanie, and Mr. Man. Beanie is not much on video entertainment, and quickly left the huddle on the couch for the loveseat and a couple of story books, while Bugaboo and Mr. Man snuggled close and snickered at the misadventures of Modoc and Dr. Doom in the face of the unbeatable Squaddies. I think I may have closed my eyes for a few minutes somewhere in there, enjoying the sound of Bo’s steady breathing and Smudgie’s gentle snoring, audible over the low sound of the television.
Closing my eyes in a room occupied by three children, I should know by now, is the parenting equivalent of my nerdy high-school-aged self walking around with a “Kick Me” sign taped to my back. If there is a thing to be disputed, whether it be how much of which couch cushion each child’s rear and feet should occupy or whether Mr. Man should be allowed so much as a sidelong glance at the Wiimote in Bugaboo’s hand, it will be, generally with the maximum possible volume and vehemence.
Having separated Bugaboo and Mr. Man by sing my body as a barrier, and sternly cautioned Beanie that under no circumstances was she to stir the pot from her perch on the loveseat, I started to close my eyes again, only to be jarred from any hope of a few minutes of peace by Baby Guy pounding on the door to the boys’ room. He had apparently been awakened by the commotion and was eager to contribute his full measure to the mayhem. Beanie hurriedly scurried to the fridge to retrieve her baby brother’s sippy cup and spring him from captivity; happily, the two of them decided they’d rather concoct fabulous feasts in the play kitchen downstairs than compete with the TV for Bugaboo and Mr. Man’s attention. I took advantage of the distraction to get the dishes done and assemble a change of clothes for Manie; we were headed to Deedaw’s for dinner, and after a day in the July heat looking at wrecked cars, my best guy always appreciates comfortable shoes and dry apparel.
Since the girls’ room was a disaster area and the two couch potatoes had already had a bit too much screen time for my liking, I shut down the Super Hero Squad session after the dishes were done. Mr. Man was unfazed by this, and headed downstairs to join in the kitchen chaos. Bugaboo, on the other hand, found this development to be altogether outrageous, and proceeded to inform me, less than politely, that additional episodes were essential to her happiness. I, in turn, proceeded to inform her that picking up her toys and books would very presently become even more essential to her happiness, as it’s not unknown at our house for toys that are not properly put away to be given away for children who will appreciate them more. Additional unpleasantness ensued. I’ll spare you the play-by-play; suffice it to say that several toys were quarantined in the linen closet pending a change in attitude and the proper storage of the remainder. Beanie, in the meantime, had ventured upstairs and begun to quietly make her bed and put away the shoes that were strewn about the room. Eventually, Bugaboo decided that it was in her best interests to follow suit, and we were able to leave for Deedaw’s at a decent hour of the late afternoon.
Once there, Bugaboo returned to being her usual kind and helpful little self, assisting Deedaw (who had her second successful cataract surgery yesterday) with some laundry and chattering away while I got dinner started. All was calm and peaceful until Beanie discovered a balloon Nephew had left behind from his visit with Deedaw on Tuesday. Bugaboo decided she wanted the balloon more than she wanted to be civilized. Then she also decided she wanted Mr. Man’s bubble fan more than she wanted to be civilized. Beanie was sent to the loveseat in the living room, Bugaboo was sent to the rocking chair in the family room, Mr. Man was given back his toy, and Baby Guy was given a fresh cup of milk at his request.
Beanie politely asked to be allowed to read, a request which I not only granted, but also used to give her the means of ending her time out; if she were to read a story to either Mr. Man or Baby Guy (of their choosing), she would be allowed to leave the loveseat and play. This was highly acceptable to Beanie (and to Mr. Man, who promptly brought her several choices). Bugaboo, on the other hand, decided to resume her earlier stream of nastiness, complaining in the ugliest tone and terms possible about everything from her dislike of the chair to her lack of desire to be seated therein to the lighting in the room. Even Deedaw, who is very indulgent towards the grandchildren, was appalled.
Once again, I’ll skip the play-by-play. Suffice it to say that in the end, Bugaboo was banished to the basement steps until she could regain something resembling a civilized demeanor, then allowed to return to the rocking chair until Manie got home. When he did, I went for a short walk while she poured out her tale of woe and injustices suffered to him.
I returned to an apology from a puffy-faced Bugaboo. After I wiped her tears away and shared big hugs with her, I set about getting dinner on the table. Fortunately, dinner was a hit with the midget mob. It was a relief to have one meal eaten with minimal dissension from the ranks.
After the dinner dishes had been cleared away and the tribe had grown manic from fatigue, Manie and I bade them all give Deedaw hugs and kisses, as the hour for our departure had grown nigh. That instruction reopened the complaint department, and we were suddenly besieged with a thousand little requests for THINGS THAT MUST HAPPEN BEFORE WE CAN LEAVE. Since we were already half an hour past all of their bedtimes, we overruled the objections, and I started herding them all towards the van, a squirming Baby Guy firmly tucked under one arm.
Once they were all securely buckled, I stood in the grass of the front yard for a moment, enjoying the cool of the evening and a slight diminution in the noise level. Manie and Deedaw had come outside by then, and I was able to give Deedaw the hug and kiss that had been obstructed earlier by an unhappy toddler, and have a quick minute of conversation among the adults. As we chatted, the pitch and tone of the noise from within the van changed, so I diverted my attention to ascertain the cause of it.
To my very great delight, I heard Beanie exclaim, “Ten cheers for Mommy!”
This was followed by a little chorus of hurrahs and clapping, all of it loud and enthusiastic. Manie started to shush them, but I held up a hand and said, “No, please don’t. I don’t get to hear THIS very often, so please let me enjoy it while it lasts!”
Today’s prayer: Lord, thank You for four little blessings with strong bodies, bright minds, and extraordinary lung capacities. Please help me to always bear in mind that these things are great gifts, and one for which other parents pray. Lord, please grant me the grace of a heart that is grateful for your gifts, especially the gifts that have the superficial appearance of work and struggle, that are Your daily will and bread for me. When I am offered thanks or a reward for them in this life, help me to accept either with humility and with joy for that moment when Your smile comes to me through the mouths of my family.