I just scrubbed my table clean, which sounds much simpler than it was. Coated in pesto, blueberry muffin crumbs, salsa and all manner of grubby finger and food residue, wiping it down took some real elbow grease. As I sponged the kids’ side, I looked down onto their chairs and saw more crumbs, noodles now hard as crackers and blueberries mashed so deeply into the fabric that they’re now part of it. I sighed.
I got out the dust-buster, which is on its last leg. I glanced at the cardboard box-now-a-muffin-cart that Oliver made over the weekend. I saw a rumpled Harry Potter cloak infused with cat hair wadded up in the corner of the room, and two half-completed Blow Your Mind science kits waiting for what? To be finished? Hilarious.
I came across receipts and expired coupons and twigs and dust bunnies, a half-written birthday card that’s now more than belated, a blanket that smells of dog. A friend was to come for a visit and some tea, but she’s stuck at home with a diarrheic toddler; she is at the end of her rope, and I understand because I wondered this morning, as I dropped the boys at the camp bus, if ever I’d been so glad to do so.
Fruit flies are swarming my kitchen. I thought Tom and the boys would have eaten the last of the peaches while I was away, but like all fruits and vegetables I left for them, the peaches were ignored, and in the soft spots and thin seams where the skin just splits, fruit flies found a feast. I do not hate fruit flies like I do the mosquitos that make it a brave act to go putter in my back yard this time of year, but they are annoying. Like inside gnats from which you cannot escape.
It’s pea soup outside today, and I am glad I have nowhere to be.
Yesterday was my annual physical and a last-minute thyroid ultrasound because one lobe felt swollen. It’s fine, and I have a new medicine because I am a chronic underperformer in the T3 department. My internist said I was such a grounded, well-adjusted person.
Yesterday I took a run, unpacked and showered.
Yesterday I started packing again, as we leave on Saturday.
Yesterday I made blueberry muffins, those that later caked my table and chair and car, because Jack adores them and I didn’t have time to refill our freezer stash before I left.
Yesterday I made a beautiful dinner for the boys and later one for T and myself. Yesterday T and I stayed up watching Bill Maher’s show from Friday and laughing ourselves silly and enjoying another glass of wine together.
This morning we were tired, and the boys were just awful. Awful and annoying, like those fruit flies and mosquitoes all wrapped into one mean swarm. My heart was sad during our drive, and I told them in no uncertain terms that should they consider acting like this in England, I would absolutely get a babysitter and leave them at home all the damn day long. I was not joking.
We talked about insincere apologies and how hurtful and damaging they can be. We talked about hoarding and why I didn't want Oliver to keep the half a lizard he found in Louisiana last month that was rotting in a jar and stinking so badly that I threw it out without asking him. He pleaded with me to take the old, broken pretzel out of the garbage can. And the expired coupons too. I do not understand. I did not expect these conversations.
When I try so hard and my kids hurt my heart, I feel blindsided. Every single time. That’s the thing about kids growing up. They can start to disappoint you in a way babies can’t. They can start to choose to upset you. And really, in that volition and decision-making is celebration of their burgeoning independence but also challenge like you’ve never seen before.
It’s a gnatty vortex. Sometimes you want to give it space and appreciation, but at other times, you just want to swat the shit out of it. You want it to be a round nail in a round hole that you can push flat and quiet and seamless against the wall.