“Mommy, me and my brother are going to find somewhere else to live!” My oldest declared.
“Really? Why is that?”
“Because you’re so mean to us!”
“Yeah!” Chimed in his little brother. “You’re not my betht fwend!”
I imagined the transition to kindergarten and a new preschool room was taking its toll on the boys, and the fact that I wouldn’t let them eat the cupcakes we’d made for dinner had pushed them over the edge.
As they aired their litany of complaints, I interjected logic such as:
“But who will fix your meals and pack your lunches?”
“Who will do your laundry?”
“Who’s going to buy you toys and take you on vacations?”
“Who’s going to take care of you when you’re sick?”
Finally, my oldest huffed and said to his brother, “C’mon! We can stay on the porch!”
Apparently, he realized he had a pretty good deal at home.
When I checked on them a little later, I asked, “Would you like me to get your blankets and pillows? It’ll be mighty cold out here in the winter. At least you’ve got electricity . . .” The table lamp was on and they had their handheld gaming devices plugged into the outlet on our three-season porch.
“I’m still mad at you, Mommy!”
“Yeah, and I’m not going to let you kiss me goodnight anymore.”
“That’s OK, boys,” I said, as I double-checked to make sure the door to the outside was still locked. “You’re allowed to be mad.”
I thought to myself about how many times I wished I could run away—from the whining, arguing, refusal to eat dinner, and sass and disrespect along with my subsequent redirecting, reminding, and sanctioning. And laundry, cooking, and responsibility. From everything.
Sometimes, when I drove past a “1 BR Apartment for Rent” sign on my way to work, I imagined what it would be like to have a place of my own. I remembered what life was like when I didn’t have to worry about anyone but myself and I could do what I wanted, when I wanted to. I imagined taking a shower where I could wash my hair AND shave my legs, eating grownup food (anything besides chicken nuggets), and watching things other than G-rated shows on TV. But then it was never long before my mind wandered to how could I fit bunk beds and a crib in a one-bedroom? And I’d laugh to myself when I realized it wasn’t running away if I brought everything and everyone with me.
Besides, who would I share meals, celebrate special occasions, bake and decorate cupcakes with? I’d miss the teaching, learning, sharing, and family rituals we had created.
I realized I had a pretty good deal at home.
All I really needed was a little break. (After all, isn’t that why I sometimes hide in the bathroom?) No doubt the same was true for the boys.