Monday, February 15, 2010

A rousing game of Whac-a-Mole, anyone?

I have said it before, but this parenting thing? It's really just one big, exhausting game of Whac-a-Mole.



You remember Whac-a-Mole, don't you? Those pesky little moles are the problems, and the mallet is your solution. However, as fast as you can stamp out one problem, another one usually pops up in its stead.

Finally got your baby to sleep through the night?

Whac! Solved that problem.

But wait! He's now teething!

Whac! Problem solved.

Your two-year old started having night terrors?

Whac! Night terrors begone! You wield a fierce mallet.

Of course, some problems are easier solved than others. Some require one Whac! of your mallet, and they are solved. Some keep cropping back up like those ugly moles.

Ahem. Like imagine for a minute that your boys keep peeing on the bathroom floor. No matter how many times you threaten, beg, plead, cajole, and make them clean the mess up themselves, that problem will not be squashed, despite how many times you try to tamp it down with your Mighty Mom Mallet.

No. Matter. How. Many. Times.

By the way, are you sick of hearing about this peeing-on-the-floor problem in our house yet? Because I am definitely not sick of talking about it. But I'll spare you.

Anyway. These parenting problems are exhausting, and just when you think you've solved it all, you know it all, you're in a perfect groove, all the moles have been whacked, then it happens. Another one pops up and taunts you.

SUCKER! YOU DON'T KNOW JACK. TRY AGAIN, BITCHES.

And you are exhausted, mentally and physically. You just want to lay down your mallet and cry, "Uncle." They have beaten you. They have called you chump. You just. can't. take. it. another. minute. Your children are slowly taking over control of your brain, and you are actually thinking about just letting the takeover occur. It's just too hard.

The inmates have officially taken over the asylum.

But wait! You plead with yourself to not set down that mallet. Don't give up.

If you set down that mallet and give up, the next thing you know, your child will start gelling his hair, calling himself "The Situation", and you'll receive a cryptic text message that states, "OMG Ma. MTV called. Goin 2 live @ Jersey Shore 4 summer with Snooki and Pauly D & get paid. I rok!"

Because let's face it. That's where The Situation's parents went wrong. They gave up. They stopped hammering out the problems and said, "You win, dude." And thus, their son now is "employed" by MTV to hang out in a hot tub all summer and obsess over the ...ahem..."hot" beefcake that he allegedly is.

Let that be a lesson to all of us mentally exhausted parents. The Situation could happen to you.

And that is where Bill and I found ourselves this weekend. Tired.

Not so much physically tired, but scrambled-eggs-for-brains-tired.

Just when we thought we had hammered out our share of problems, those sucky moles decided to rear their ugly heads.

Screw you, Whac -a-Mole. You were never my favorite game as a child.

I mean, come on now. We've been doing this parenting thing for almost a decade. We know how to get kids to behave in a restaurant. We know not to take four kids to a restaurant when everyone is over-tired, over-hungry, over-stimulated. We are not that foolish.

Except for the times when we are really, really stupid. Which happens more than we care to admit. Like Saturday night.

I was stir crazy. I needed to see people, to be back among the living. I wanted to eat food that I hadn't prepared myself. I wanted to remember what the world looks like outside of my snowy window.

Oh, and I'll take a glass of wine, please. Intravenously.

We walked out of Saturday evening mass to an almost-flat tire on our minivan. We could see the shiny, offending nail embedded deeply in the rubber tread. "Whatevs," I thought. No stinkin' nail was going to derail my chance to be out in the world again.

Please don't make me go home. I hate it there. Well, no. I don't so much hate it, as I am sick of looking at it 24/7. After having spent the last week practically as a shut-in, with occasional jaunts to school and back, I need to get out. Damn snow. Just inflate the tire and move along. We'll get a new tire tomorrow.

And now I would like to issue a formal apology to the two young couples who were unfortunately seated behind us at the nice Italian restaurant for what you thought was a romantic couples' night out on the town to celebrate Valentine's Day.

Because 7-year old boys just cannot get over how funny it is to say, "JABBA THE BUTT! JABBA THE BUTT! JABBA THE BUTT!"

Even in a nice restaurant.

Don't worry. My son was able to reflect on the hilarity of it all once he got home and parked his own Henry the Butt in a time-out chair.

And since I was at the point when I would rather stab myself in the eyeball with my own fork rather than continue to listen to the whines of my children as they lamented about the fact that their food wasn't ready and sitting in front of them within 2 minutes after ordering it, I decided to listen in on your conversation.

You're thinking about getting pregnant and starting a family? Good for you! You only want two kids? Is that what I heard? Of course. Because only idiots have 3 children. And people who have four or more children? Well, they're just total dumbasses. As you can see.

Exhibit A sitting at the table adjacent to yours. And yes, my loud children are making it more difficult to eavesdrop on your riveting conversation about whatever it is that young, carefree twentysomethings talk about.

I'm sure it's not about which person in your household pisses on the bathroom floor, and leaves a yellow puddle. No, I am sure you do not have such petty, disgusting problems.

Can somebody please make these four loud kids STOP? Bill and I are too tired to fight this battle with these four little punks that we have given birth to, and I just want to sip my nice glass of wine in peace. I do not care that he/she will not stop touching him/her or breathing on him/her, and yes, I heard for the 514th time that HE/SHE IS HUNGRY. I get it.

Young couples, I assure you, it's not always this hellish. Because once the food arrived, did you notice how my over-tired, over-hungry children went from snarling, gnashing beasts to semi-civilized human beings? I'll take semi-civilized. Fully-civilized is awesome, but semi-civilized works for me too.

And now I want to give a shout-out to the cute, older couple in their 60s who gazed over at our table longingly. Yes, I said longingly. Like you've been through our battle. Like you have fought that war. Like you have been through the tiredness, and had the "Whose-kids-are-these-because-surely-we-are-not-raising-such-brats" thoughts.

You actually looked like you might miss it. This parenting thing. This crazy, Whac-a-Mole game of parenting.

Thank you, Older Couple With a Lifetime of Perspective, because you made me gaze at my husband and think to myself, "That will be us someday. We'll be all alone, just the two of us, sipping our Cabernet and we'll see a family of harried, tired parents, and rowdy, hungry children, and we will miss this. This wonderful, chaotic, blessed insanity."

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