Monday, December 11, 2006

Real Life

Some nights aren’t so fun. Some nights are laced with tension and raised voices. Sometimes parents spend that time between work and bedtime imploring the children to be quiet, to stop touching each other and for everyone to respect everyone else’s space. Nights when a third-grader spends three hours working on a project for Science class and all they can do with the six-month-old is stand up and hold her because she won’t allow them to sit down or to put her down because she is the one actually running the show around that house. She is the wizard behind the curtain. But then when The Wizard does finally start to drift into sleep, they need the other three children to just. be. quiet. And they won’t. They won’t because it’s not in their genes and because they know that that is the precise moment when the parents really, really want them to just shut up for a few minutes. And this is exactly how it is put forth. This would be the same night that the five-year-old shoves the eight-year-old in the back, propelling him forward, headfirst into the bookcase in the living room, causing it to rock back and forth and threaten to tip over. Shoves him even though he was just told not to touch his brother. This act causes the father to lose it and use a word he probably shouldn’t while sending the five-year-old to his room. Later, when the father and five-year-old are sitting together on the couch watching television, they’ll discuss bad words and the five-year-old will make the father laugh out loud. The six-month-old is snotty. Still. And coughing. Again. And the father wonders if this is the 19th Century and she has the TB for which the only respite is taking the fresh air. He thinks this because he doesn’t understand medicine and, for having four children, doesn’t really understand children. Not tonight he doesn’t. He doesn’t get why they won’t eat, listen, stop touching each other or just do what their mother and father tell them to do. Why, when you tell the four-year-old something is black, she insists it’s white. Why the infant insists on rubbing snot all over her face like an unguent. Tomorrow night it might be clearer. Tomorrow night it will probably all make sense and be something for him to laugh at and write about on his little blog. But tonight, real life has gripped him with all the stress and tension of being a parent. Tomorrow night will be different.