The only thing which has gotten me through this day, beside mass consumption of wine, is that fact that it’s March and lord help me, there won’t be another snow day until 2016. I wrongly thought this morning, at 6 am when the Commander awoke eager and ready to tackle his new suburban snow field, that a snow day in the suburbs with a 5 year old and a two year old, would be a million times better than last year when we were in the city with a 4 year old and a 15 month old. I am a fucking moron.
“Look outside, mommy! Look! Can we go build an igloo now?” the Commander begs already trying to locate his snow pants. The sun barely reaching above the snow covered trees and my coffee yet to brew, I optimistically suggested waiting until his brother woke up --- naturally, without the poking and prodding that Commander was offering. “I don’t want to wait. I can go out alone. I don’t need you. You sunk. I am going outside.” Managing to convince the Commander that the snow wasn’t ready, we calmly watched TV until TIT screamed bloody murder from his crib. Then all bets were off, and Snowmageddeon began.
I defray tackling the winter wonderland until nearly 11am by offering a variety of child-friendly activities. Inevitably, they are all a colossal failure which should have given me pause and provide a harbinger for how the rest of my day would go. Now taking kids out to play in the snow requires more prep work than a surgeon getting ready to do open heart surgery. First, I begin with the less hostile child. The Commander agreeably puts on two shirts and his snow pants while I chase the TIT through the house. “Mommy, Mommy, Mommy,” the Commander wails from the backdoor. “Hurry!!” In his haste to get outside into the icy tundra, he fails to put on socks and just tosses his snow boots on. “You need your socks,” I scream as I hold the TIT down still trying to wrestle off his diaper. Now TIT is a different story. He wants no part of winter wear and is content to go outside in a diaper and his Batman pajama shirt. Undeterred by the howling wind when the door opens, the TIT is simultaneously crying from the cold but barreling forward to get outside. I manage to get 87 layers of clothing on him; snow pants, socks, a thermal shirt. But the gloves, that’s a whole different story. I try the mittens first but he is adamantly against them. I then try gloves, but I might as well be rubbing acid in an open gapping wound, because TIT will have none of it. At this point the Commander has aggregated a bountiful array of snow toys including my old hockey stick, a beach shovel and some buckets. While I am trying to figure out which of these items is ok to bring outside, TIT has removed his jacket because, “Don’t want jacket,” makes a ton of sense to a stubborn 2 year old.
So the Commander and his daddy are working on building the igloo but TIT just stands, frozen, gazing into the white sea of snow shaking and gloveless. I thought logic would prevail and once TIT touched the icy snow he’d realize that while the gloves aren’t great, they are the best option. Fuck me for assuming common sense was in the arsenal of a toddler, because TIT continues to dig holes with his bare hands crying as his tiny little fingers turn red. I take the obligatory winter pictures of boys in their backyard and think it makes more sense to bring TIT inside than allow him to get frost bite and have no way to get to the hospital because our driveway has yet to be plowed. I scoop him up and bring him back inside and start the laborious process of removing the 87 layers of winter wear. I mean, why would anyone, toddler or adult, want to stay outside in freezing weather for no good reason. But “NO. GOOD. REASON.” is what drives this child. Clawing at the door, naked, he is trying to get back outside to his brother and his dad. So I make the executive mother decision that outside time is over and it’s lunchtime and make the Commander forfeit his igloo fort and come inside. It’s not fair, but it’s the only thing, which will stop the crying, and that is all I care about. Protesting, the Commander slams his shovel into his techno-color igloo and begrudgingly comes inside.
Next on tap: popcorn, hot chocolate and a movie! What’s better on a snow day? Silly, silly me. My terrorists have a different idea than the Norman Rockwell-esque picture perfect suburban snow day. They want no part of this shit. “I want hot chocolate but I want it cold,” Commander bellows as he strips naked from his snow gear. “You mean you want chocolate milk?” But that’s not what the Commander wants. He is specific. He wants 2 parts milk, one part coco mix, heated for 39 seconds on high in his personalized Elmo cup. He wants 10 mini marshmallows. Not 7. This kid won’t do math a day in his life at school but he knows exactly how many fucking marshmallows are in his cup and he knows how many more he needs to get to ten. Meanwhile TIT, still with glowing red hands, in spite has started to dump every basket of toys. I stay calm. I pour wine. It’s noon. It’s five in London. We are all good here.
Now my two are a rare breed. Part little boy, part tiger-blood superhuman creatures, they are the only two children who DO NOT want to watch TV or a movie or enjoy playing with their variety of electronic devices that don’t require intense supervision or for me to wield a lightsaber and slap the shit out of them. The Commander offers to watch Star Wars as the movie choice, but I know better. I know that he doesn’t watch this movie; he acts it out. Not being in the mood to dress in a Darth Maul mask and be chased, I give them two other options. Penguins of something or other and Frozen. Since the Commander would rather have his eyes gouged out by Elsa than watch that movie, I knew the winner. And for a few minutes, my two semi-naked little boys completed my vision of picture perfect suburbia. They sat cuddled under a blanket, each with a bowl of popcorn calmly watching the plight of some baby penguin drifting astray on an iceberg. I knew better than to high-five myself yet. I was cautiously optimistic that this euphoria could last the whole 96 minutes of the movie and I could just sit. Sit quietly. But just like that, for NO GOOD REASON, the TIT takes his bowl of popcorn and tosses it on his brother.
The Commander screams, “Hey! Make him stop. Mommy, make him stop.” Before I even have a chance to intervene, TIT then takes the Commander’s bowl of popcorn and throws that too. “What the (I Stop myself before the FUCK) happened over here?” TIT points to the Commander and says, “Max did it. Max did it.” I saw the whole thing go down and I know the little hellion is lying. I am amazed that at 2 this kid has lying down to an art he has mastered. He has the finger point, the look of surprise and disgust, as he throws his brother under the bus. “He did not do this. Don’t lie to me,” I say. He back peddles. He thinks for a minute. “Daddy did it.”
I pour some more wine and add the movie to the list of “Tried and Failed” for the day. Then it dawns on me. The reason we moved to the suburbs. The whole thing which drove us from the city out to this sleepy suburban hollow. It was in front of me the whole time. THE BASEMENT!!
Yes, that’s it. That is what will save me for the next 8 hours. Now before we moved into this house a month ago, I spent hours pondering how to make this area of the house the most delicious, child-friendly utopia imaginable. I mean Chuck E Cheese meets Disney fucking World. I had our contractor build a rock wall with a repel rope. I put in a swing, a basketball hoop, a trampoline and added every toy we ever amassed. No kid in their right mind would ever want to play upstairs where there are unstained rugs and wedding crystal.
I lug down a bottle of wine and a variety of snacks. I forgo the healthy options; I have no fight left in me. I need what I have to get me to bedtime. I decide, “Sure” and “Yes” are the words I will utter to all their requests for the rest of the day.
“Sure you want an ice pop? Why not. Have two!”
“Soda! A-OK!! You got it.”
“Let’s have the whole box of cookies! Why stop now!”
“Let mommy open the Shiraz and then you can eat those chemical laden cheese balls from Costco!”
I set up an obstacle course downstairs. I call it the “Kiddie Olympics” and I promise presents to the winner. My goal: to tire the fuckers out. The Commander is eating this shit up. He’s climbing the rock wall, making three baskets in a row, jumping on one leg and then the other. He runs up the stairs and down and up and down. He’s adding numbers, reading words and I contemplate for a few minutes becoming a kindergarten teacher. I don’t stop barking commands until he breaks a sweat. TIT on the other hand, has no interest in participating in my games. He finds his favorite toy: electrical cords.
This kid has cars and a Cozy Coupe and Leap Frogs, but his favorite things to play with are wires. He’s not particular. He likes iPhone wires. He likes extension cords. He likes lamp wires. He likes computer cords. He likes to carry them around and when he gets really ballsy he likes to try and plug them into outlets. For NO GOOD REASON. I offer alternatives, but there is nothing better than a brand new extension cord. That shit is gold. Screw the iPad; Mommy got a brand new shiny wire. I have to divert my attention from the Olympic games to address TIT’s impending electrocution. And he is pissed when I take the wire and try and put it high up on a shelf. It sends him into an electric frenzy of punching and kicking and screaming. In the process of trying to control TIT, the Commander loses focus and interest in the Olympics and heads up stairs to “go swimming” in our bathtub.
My husband, snowed in as well, but “working from home” has managed to lock himself away in an upstairs office for most of the mayhem. I am pretty sure “Working from home” in part meant reading the WSJ and hiding from his offspring. But now the Commander wants to his goggles and the bubble bath and go swimming with his brother and daddy. I am more than happy to allow this to occur and throw all boys in a bath before I go and locate another bottle of Pinotage. When I return to the bathroom, to my new beautiful bathroom with my new beautiful tub where I am sure the builder of the house envisioned as a relaxing oasis, I find the remnants of a tsunami. Bubbles and suds overflowing everywhere running down the side of the tub and across the bathroom floor.
It’s 4:30. I am now two melatonin gummies and four hours away from bedtime. I have unleashed every mothering activity from my depleted arsenal short of baking cookies. I think momentarily about tossing that in there. And then I look at the bathroom floor and the mess. And I think about the basement and the array of toys scattered around and the crushed goldfish and spilled hot chocolate. And then I think about the kitchen and the family room and the popcorn covered rug that has now been jumped on and crushed into the cushions of the sofa. I think about the dishwasher full of clean dishes that need to be put away and the sink full of dirty dishes which need to be loaded. And I surrender.
I give up.
Winter, I am your bitch.