Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Have a heart (attack)

Yesterday the kids were rotten, really rotten. Primo’s having some sort of fraught moment where the rigors of daily living are unbearably aggravating to him. I can’t get him to eat or take a piss or put on his shirt or clean up his messes. He’s suddenly off-the-charts unreasonable.

Second skipped her nap because she was left under the guardianship of my grandmother, who finds it easier to keep her awake in a colossally shitty mood rather then endure the three minutes of protesting which precedes her napping. More on this another time. Suffice it to say that by 5pm, my apartment was a nuthouse. The inmates are running the asylum sort of thing.

Seconda is flipping out, crying ‘til the drool drips out of her open-wide mouth, for a reason I can not discern. It has something to do with Curious George. Does she want to watch it? NOOOOOOOO. So I turn it off. She continues to scream like something is seriously wrong with her innards. So she DOES want to watch it? YEEEEEEEES. Turn the TV back on. Crying continues.

“I am not a mind reader!!!!” I inform her. Especially not of crazy people.

Meanwhile Primo shouts that all I care about is Seconda and he really needs me to help him draw the smiling mouth of this vampire which he is copying out of a Judith Viorst book, and he needs my help urgently because the vampire looks HAPPY not SCARY and it is ALL WRONG. He is drawing a smile, I point out, which does run the risk of seeming happy, and I am not sure how to make it otherwise. This makes him Bruce-Banner-type angry. If I’d have known I was going to be forced under threat of tantrum to pen the complicated emotional states of characters from horror movies, I would have taken a few classes in figurative drawing before I got knocked up.

In the middle of turning into the Incredible Hulk, he throws the arm to his Darth Vader figure behind the couch, which he instantly regrets because Darth Vader is significantly less fun to play with without a light saber or arm to hold it with.

“Move the couch, Mommy,” he instructs me, “I’m hungry. I want a hummus sandwich.”

In the olden days, this kid would get a slap upside the head. I consider this. I consider giving him his fifth time-out of the day. Instead of choosing either of these options, I sweetly say: “I can’t move the couch, make you food and have a heart attack, all at the same time.”

He considers a moment and then says helpfully: “OK, so move the couch first.”

“Fine,” I reply. I’m tired. The day’s a bust. I’m already a shitty disciplinarian and tomorrow I’ll make a clean start. Right now, I just want to go on Facebook for five minutes.

Primo climbs over the back of the couch and retrieves Vader’s arm. Then we move the couch back into place and he makes himself nice and comfortable on it.

Two minutes later, I am happily reading about other people’s lives on my computer screen, when my son speaks.

“Now you can have a heart attack,” he says.

It is an earnest offer, and I realize he didn’t get my sarcasm at all. He thinks a heart attack is just another one of the annoying things Mommy always wants to do for herself, like take a shower, drink coffee, work, clean the house, pay bills. He says it like, “Hold on, wasn’t there something you were meaning to do? . . . . Oh yeah. Go ahead, treat yourself right. Have a heart attack. You deserve it, Mom.”

“Thank you,” I reply. I mean it.

Then I make everyone some of my grandmother’s chicken soup with passatelli and by the time David gets home, we’re slurping away happily and my children are model children and I am mother of the year again.