I’ve mentioned before what my job entails. It’s not like I’m overworked, I don’t imply that at all. But four times a year things heat up and I have to work a little more, a little harder, a little longer. This is one of those times.
But in the middle of this, we have the emotional roller coaster of the last couple weeks. First the kids started doubting themselves, seemingly swapping personalities like a bad version of a Disney movie. I have four kids, Abbi – 18; Hannah – 13; and the twins, Noah and Sam – 9 almost 10. In the last week I’ve had one in tears, another being as major a pubescent teen as you can get, a third getting hyper and a fourth in so much trouble I had to have him picked up from school.
Then last night I came home to see that Hannah, my middle, not having completed her one chore for the day: the dishes and kitchen. It wasn’t like I’d really made that big a mess, I had desserts made, the meals were complete, not many pans. She did have homework, and I allow that to be the first thing completed when they get home. But I asked, 3 times over 3 hours, for her to clean the kitchen. By the time I went to bed it wasn’t done.
I was ready to get insanely angry . . . until I noticed the closet open, the wrapping paper and coats strewn all over the dining room floor. My sons were looking for hats to wear for silly hat day. Now . . . never mind the fact that they have character hats they got for Christmas, somehow they decided to look for and potentially destroy good hats in order to “make them sillier.” I put a stop to that immediately. “You can’t tape a bunch of stuff to and cut up an Indiana Jones hat or you’ll never have an Indiana Jones hat again!”
That’s what I got. “oh.”
“I told them that!” was Abbi’s exasperated tome.
“Well she was right!”
I pushed them all to wear the simple hats they already had. They were already silly. The idea that you’d wear 5 hats or tape signs to another or cut up a felt-based fedora just put me angrier.
Don’t get me wrong . . . I know they’re worried in the backs of their minds. Their Grandfather – my late wife’s Dad – doesn’t have long to live. He’s deteriorating daily. That has affected my kids in ways I’m not sure even they realized affected them.
I forced the closet cleanup before the boys went to bed.
I got dinner served.
Then when 9pm rolled around and Hannah had slunk off to bed I realized that she hadn’t done her chores. I was readying for my explosion of anger when she came down and handed me a blue sheet of paper. I was about to roll my eyes, figuring it was yet another missing assignment when I read the note. Hannah and her group in art had done such a tremendous job on their project that it had been accepted for an art show at a local high school and was in the running for an award. She had a silly Charlie-Brown smile on her face and looked happy.
“We can all go to the show,” she said, and I could tell that meant she wanted us all to go.
“Okay. We have a couple weeks. I’m very proud of you,” I told her. She skipped up the stairs and I realized that the kids are embracing what good news and victories they have.
Then I turned around and noticed the garbage falling out of the trash can and the dirty dishes piled on the counter . . . and I sighed, beginning the cleanup.