At a recent playdate, my four-year-old inquired of her friend, "What are you drawing?"
He replied, "I'm making a picture for you. It's a picture of your Daddy."
"Well, draw him laying down," was her immediate response. I laughed, my husband cringed. He doesn't want to be known as the infirm parent, the one who lies around and watches TV all day long.
The girls have recently informed him that he is watching way too much TV. He is current on all the college and professional football games and statistics. We have rented DVDs of past HBO series shows such as 'Oz' and 'Rome'. The other day I came home from the store and caught him flipping through the channels only to stop at a professional dart championship. The contest was being held in the UK and the prize for first place was 100,000 pounds. That's nearly a quarter of a million dollars! For throwing sharp objects at a bullseye on the wall! There was an entire audience of spectators, complete with individual cheering sections and homemade signs. After a minute, I realized I was standing still, eyes focused in on the score projected in the little box at the bottom of the screen. I shook my head and asked, not really expecting him to know the answer, how many games they were playing. "Best of 25," Bubba replied, not moving a muscle to shift his eyeballs in my direction.
"Daddy, I wish you didn't have an ouchie tummy and didn't have any surgery and could play with me right now." Lola hung over the arm of the couch, hovering over her Daddy's forehead.
"I know, sweetie. Me too. But we can play a game or color or something on the couch."
"No, I mean I want you to get down on the floor and play with me like Mommy can."
"Oh, I get it. But for now, Mommy's fun to play with on the floor, too."
"Yeah, except for the mean part she's just like you."
Lola and I are having a tough time. She is a very physical, high energy, push-it-past-the-limit kind of kid who thinks that bugging and picking at people is hilarious. Normally, I can find it within myself to see things from her perspective and laugh as I try to get her to tone it down a little. Not right now. With the acute crisis over, things have settled in to a state of grey. I'm tired. My routine is off and I'm torn between caring for kids and my partner and trying to find a way to get back to where we were. I bark at the kids quicker than I used to. I'm more anal about the housekeeping and that means they have to be, too. The weather is changing and the mornings are darker. The dog is restless because he doesn't get out enough when it's rainy. I want comfort food - warm stew and casseroles and things that take lots of time and care to prepare. I feel grey, too.
"Is there any mail for meeee?" comes the slightly pathetic inquiry from the back seat as I close the mailbox.
"Yup, you got a new magazine today," I twist my shoulder to hand it back to her, knowing she'll never be able to wait the half block drive into the garage from here.
"Yahoo! Will you read it to me when we get inside? Pleeeeze, Mommy?"
"Sure I will, sweetie."
Thank god for new distractions. We spent the afternoon making Hedgehog Biscuits (those qualify as comfort food, by the way. They're warm and fresh baked and smell yeasty and fabulous) together and laughed at the black dog sitting beneath the counter getting sprinkles of flour all over him and licking them off. We read about owls that stay awake in the day and live in burrows in the grass and invented a new bedtime game that lets Bubba and me sit on the couch while the girls run around the house scavenging for unique objects. We take turns asking silly questions to discern the nature of the thing hiding behind their backs and they feel terribly clever when they stump us.
Life is good.