Yeeaaaah, you know what I mean. The moment when Kid A begins to pitch a fit, then Kid B gets somehow caught up in it and smacks Kid A, and Parent A has to pull Kid A off of Kid B, whereupon Kid B commences to wailing like a banshee and Parent A loses it and yells "Stop crying!" at, uh, everyone. OMG. WTF? HFS!!
I don't know whether to blame a very social week (three playdates, two sleepovers, one kids' yoga class and one Kindergarten party), the ambient levels of exhaustion in our house, or some new demented bird flu, but jumping Mary and Joseph, I'm giving myself a time out. There was this new...situation...in our house this week: one kniption accelerating into the next, temper tantrums that bounced around and infect everyone in the room, lots of gritted teeth and faces red from bawling.
Today was some sorta new supernova. After picking Adinah up at her friend Oskar's house, the girls and I set out on a shopping expedition to get a gift and some avocados for a party we're going to tomorrow. To save us a trip back home again, I made the questionable decision to press on, even though V.'s pants were wet from a diaper disaster, and we would also have to tote along Adinah's scooter and papier-mâché horse mask (it's a long story). V. was game initially, but eventually began to oscillate between fusticatious and plaintive unhappiness. Deanie was a bit sullen but mostly good natured. I thought the nadir was our stop in a fish and chips fast food joint: as I tried to get them to eat the fish or vegetables, V. tried to kick her way out of my lap while Deanie spilled our bottle of mineral water and generally pestered me about whether she could have a dessert without eating any actual food. I started to feel sort of brittle, like an old rubber band.
But after we had accomplished all our missions, and we were finally back on our block and almost home, I told Adinah I didn't think we'd have time to go visit her friend Marie today, and she went off like a siren. She wailed at me, I snapped at her, V. took a few swings at both of us, and I yelled at, yeah, everybody. V. shrieked and kept screaming until long after I'd changed her again, given her a bottle of tea and laid her down for a nap. Whoa.
Deanie and I went to our corners, and eventually, V. fell asleep. After a cup of coffee and this hard-won moment of quiet, Deanie and I made up. V cried when she woke up, but then seemed to feel better. I started dinner, put a feedback-soaked bit of rock-a-rolla on the jambox, and danced around the ballroom with my daughters. The song, by the Dream Syndicate, was called, "Tell Me When it's Over." Indeed.
It's so hard sometimes, this family shit. You think maybe you're gonna go absolutely mental, and, maybe, somehow you hold it together with a piece of Scotch tape. You snatch a poetic, air guitar moment out of the end of a long lunatic day, and sometimes you wonder what the hell you're doing it for. Often, when you hurl that very question out the window, you get no answer.
So there's nothing to do. I took a walk, wrote this down. Now I'll go to bed.
Then get up and do it again.