Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The witching hour

Without fail, four o'clock in the afternoon comes around and my children transform.  Whatever kind of day we had been having up until this point, whether is was a magical day full of glorious motherhood moments, a lazy stay at home and play nicely day, or a day spent out around town in the party van, four o'clock turns a switch in the girls' programming and they unleash their inner animals.  Their behavior during this time is not necessarily bad, it is just wild and uncontrollable, and of course, it coincides perfectly with the unavoidable slump in my energy that follows a day of good old fashioned child rearing.  Usually, this is the time of day that any attempt at living media free falls apart.  Sure, I begin the morning telling myself that we will spend the whole day without watching television, because there are so many marvelous ways to be creative and make our own fun, and sometimes I manage to stick with it...until four.  The natives over take me and I submit to their chanting and clawing, and those little friends with the awesome dance moves regain their rightful place in our family home.  Even with the sweet drone of irritatingly catchy fresh tunes, the shenanigans are not entirely avoided.  Mere moments ago, the blonde and the brunette were working affectionately together to build a pillow house to share, but the clock chimed four and suddenly the blonde's work must not have been up to code, because the brunette smashed and destroyed the whole thing (see last post for more detail on her destructive nature).  Unsurprisingly, a fight broke out, much to the amusement of the baby, who both cheered and reprimanded from the safety of the top of the kitchen table, shouting out "one meenut, one meenut!".  They scratched, they kicked, they shouted, and what did I do?  Well I already turned on cartoons, what else do you want from me?  A joke, people - obviously I hollered for them to stop.  They ignored me, I got the baby off the table, she got in a few swings, and it fizzled out on it's own.  After this, DVD shelf wreckage is likely to ensue, follow by couch jumping, crying, yelling, throwing, and the like.  But I have a theory on the purpose of what is known around here as the witching hour - while it does no favors for me, it does wonders for my husband.  As soon as he walks in the door, the chaos halts and the girls run happily into his arms, relieved to have a parent home who is not at their wits' end - he is fresh meat for their play schemes and tea party rotation.  I, of course, push the kids out of the way to run into his arms (not really push, just side step and nudge), relieved to have an adult home to talk to me about something outside of the realm of princess fantasy land.  I begin to wonder, is this his own elaborate scheme to stay at the top of our favorites list?  Does he have some sort of mind control powers that set us girls in a state of frenzy at the stroke of four, stirring up a mad house for him to sweep in and turn around upon his awaited arrival home?  As suspicious as it seems, I have little evidence to go on that would suggest trickery on my husbands part.  Whatever it is that sets the witching hour in motion, it is in full swing.  He should be home in twenty six minutes...

Friday, January 13, 2012

The destroyer

My middle daughter, the brunette, is three now, and whoever decided to call it the terrible twos, obviously hadn't seen three yet.  Three is challenging.  When the blonde was three, she was defiant, resistant to both the toilet and time out, a master of temper tantrums, and a although a novice, a regular back-talker.  There were days I just wanted to leave her on the front porch until her father came home (but of course, I'm a responsible parent and never did - besides, sitting out there from lunch time until my husband came home is an awfully long time).  The brunette, while sharing some of these frustrating talents, has found her own special way to leave her mark on the third year.  She is a destroyer.  Of all things, both nature and man made.  A lovely flower in bloom?  Not for long - petals are not merely plucked, but shredded, and a twisted and lifeless stem is left shriveling on the sidewalk.  Junk mail left on the counter?  Make that microscopic pieces of paper strewn wildly throughout the house.  An awesome new toy?  Scrap plastic.  It is amazing, and not merely because she is demolishing everything in her reach, but because she does so without the slightest change in temperament.  Normally, a person would think tearing things apart and smashing stuff would be a sign of frustration or anger, but the brunette is a stoic angel - who is pulling a pillow inside out.  And it is not just dinging things up, it is breaking, dismembering, picking apart, utterly destroying things.  If she could, I'm sure she'd find a way to set it all ablaze at the end.  Yikes, right?  My only comfort is that I'm pretty sure she is not doing it with malicious intent.  After all, more often than not, the things she is choosing to destroy are her own things.  She doesn't take her sisters' toys captive, and so far, all of our electronics are safe.  I suppose she cold just have an interest in mechanics - how does the play mixer work?  Let's smash it to smithereens and find out!  Or maybe there's an underlying interest in anatomy - it might explain all of the Barbie heads and miscellaneous limbs from other toys at the bottom of the bucket (Dr. Frankenstein?)  Maybe, she has super human strength and isn't really meaning to break everything but just hasn't yet learned how to harness her awesome powers and use them for good.  Maybe.  Until she either gets called to join the X Men or grows out of it, I'll just try to look on the bright side of this destructive phase - the sooner she destoys all of those kids meal toys, the sooner I'll get to throw them out.

Saturday, January 7, 2012


Ask anyone, and they will tell you how incredibly creative and artistic I am.  It's my "thing".  I was terrible at both sports and social interaction as a child, and so, whether by default or actual skill and interest, I took to creating craft projects alone in my room.  It was heaven.  I was a whiz with the glue gun, and could turn any shoe box and scrap of fabric into a four poster Edwardian Barbie bed.  Magic.  Obviously, Barbies are only cool until you're fourteen (right?....), so I eventually evolved my crafting into actual art projects, using actual art supplies.  My parents lovingly accepted and encouraged my interest in art and resulting rejection of socialization, and didn't question my home-made, sometimes fashionably questionable additions to my hair, backpack, shoes, whatever.  If I could get my hands on it, I Modge Podged the living daylights out of it.  My then-boyfriend and now-husband (yes,we're high school sweethearts, how cute, it happens in real life) found it endearing (I think) that I'd show up with hand crafted tokens of teenage love for him, and would trail behind me at art museums while we we dating.  I even made it through three semesters towards an art degree before morning sickness and the prospect of diaper changing trumped my indie hippie art maker tendencies and turned me into the respectable conservative I am today (ha ha ha ha ha, irony at it's finest).  Of course, babies need crafted tokens of love, too, so I left one medium for another, and turned to knitting crazy things and painting super cool murals on my kid's walls.  I dabbled in arts and crafts when I found the time and energy, trying to stay fresh and have a good outlet for the mama crazies (you know what I'm talking about).  As the girls got bigger, I got excited thinking about all the awesome art projects and crafting skills I'd impart on them.  Starting small and easy, I got crayons, stickers, colored paper, stuff like that, and then when it was all set up and I had finished my model, I let the girls join.  Right away, something was not right.  Instead of being the free spirited fun loving who cares if there's a mess we are making art magic mom I had thought I'd be, I found myself hovering and anxious about crayon getting on the table, stickers over lapping and improper use of materials (i.e. as food items).  What is happening?  They are not making art, they are making a mess!  I'd panic and cut it short, and of course, the girls would be disappointed.  Every time the girls would ask to "make projects", I would have a terrible nastiness welling up inside of me, thinking about all of the stuff I'd have to get out, all of the stuff I'd have to clean up, and all of the stuff I'd have to put away.  It didn't help, either, that their skill levels were completely different, so while the blonde could handle a glitter pen fairly well, the brunette could not, but would want to because her sister did, and I would have to intervene to stave off glitter clumps.  The baby just ate stuff and stood on the table.  It made for a stressful endeavor.  I knew this was awful, this was not the kind of mom I wanted to be, but I just couldn't shake my aversion to making crafts with the girls.  In an attempt to change it, I got the blonde a craft supply bucket for Christmas last year thinking that the new materials would make it more fun for both of us, but it turns out I dreaded puffy balls and popsicle sticks more that I hated watercolors.  On the other side, this craft bucket opened the blonde's eyes to a whole world of crafting possibilities, and her natural interest in art projects grew.  Every day, she would ask to do a project, and most times, regrettably, I'd either sneakily put it off until it was too late to get out the craft bucket, or I'd get it out and hover irritably over every drop of glue.  Not fun.  Not for me, anyways.  The blonde was well aware of my hovering, and did not like it.  She had her own vision, and I was ruining it, and one day, she simply reminded me "I can do it myself".  Bam.  Right in the heart.  She can do it herself.  She can do it well, even, for a four year old.  Alright then, here's some paper, some paint, some glue, feathers, puffy balls, have at it.  And how nice it was.  She thoroughly enjoyed crafting on her own, and I enjoyed just watching.  We chatted about whatever she was making, and although the brunette still required some assistance, I began to remind myself that she, too, can do it herself.  Mostly.  Kind of.  She was only sort of interested anyways.  Slowly, I am finding myself relaxing a bit over the prospect of crafting, and the blonde has made out this Christmas with a new plethora of art supplies and craft projects, so I will have plenty of opportunity to remind myself that hovering is not required, and kids art supplies are washable.  I know it will get easier as they get older, but who am I to deny the joy of being creative now.  I can say one thing, I am grateful that my parents were supportive of my interests as a child, and I hope to do the same for my own children, but I can't help but wonder if the fact that I crafted alone in my room made it easier for my mom to be encouraging - she never saw the hot glue on the carpet or the bottle of sequins spilled down the vent.  Well, maybe as soon as we get over the scissors hump, my girls can craft in secret, too.