Call me delusional or paranoid; say I need to up my meds. But whatever you think, I think the kids are plotting my downfall. I think they are conspiring in their little-kid brains to partake in all the activities that drive me batty and, subsequently, to be rid of me forever after I am evaluated and committed. Summer vacation is only 12 days old and I've already developed a tic and a potty mouth to make a truck driver blush. Another 70 days of this and I will finally get my wish for a state-sponsored vacation complete with three square meals a day and my own private suite.
Liam's contribution to this debauchery is a stubborn-streak a mile wide, combined with a refusal to poop in the toilet, or to poop with any regularity. I suspect that, at the rate he's going, he will have to interrupt his wedding to get himself a fresh pair of "unner," and that's only if he doesn't completely fill up with poop and actually EXPLODE at some point before then. Rumor has it, this anti-pooping mentality is not unusual in boys, but this doesn’t make me feel any better. I've had my hands in human excrement for so many consecutive years that it may, on any given day, be the straw that breaks this camel's back. Sort of related, and though I haven’t verified this with a medical professional, I think my carpal tunnel might stem from the repetitive motion of scrubbing out grimy underwear. I also suspect some of my mental exhaustion likely stems from trying to use Jedi mind tricks to will a three-year-old to poop. If there's anything I've learned in life, it’s that you can't make someone else poop, no matter how hard you try.
Nadia's contribution to my emotional demise is, in all fairness, no fault of her own. She had her tonsils out last week and I think that says it all. What a way to start a summer vacation…some kids get to go to camp, Nadia got to have surgery! To put it mildly, she's not herself. She loiters pitifully on the couch, digesting one Tom and Jerry episode after another. OK, that’s actually completely normal for Nadia, minus the pitiful demeanor. There's the occasional request for food, followed by immediate rejection of said food because "it tastes so bad," either due to my subpar cooking or, more likely, her sickly throat. She visits us in bed every night with a cough and whimpering and then climbs in next to me with breath that almost overtakes me, spreading through the room like a landfill-scented plug-in. We're a week post-surgery now, so there's the hope of better days soon.
Declan, at almost 17 months, has all of four teeth. So I suspect teething is the issue for his – and my - ill-tempered bouts of screaming, fit-throwing and general malaise. He has just discovered that he wants to be a stuntman when he grows up and I am always finding him in compromising positions, such as standing on the kitchen or dining room table, at the top of the bunk beds, "surfing" on our rocking ottoman, etc. Most of these adventures end with some degree of head injury, thus contributing to the ill-tempered bouts of screaming, fit-throwing and general malaise. During the moments when he's not working on his stunts, he dreams of becoming a make-up artist. His favorite drawer in the house is my drawer in the bathroom, where he gets into all of my makeup (recently having broken my new cake makeup, shattering it into a messy powder) and toiletries. For the uninitiated, 50 yards of unraveled dental floss is a mighty large pile of string. In his free time, he enjoys throwing toys into the toilet and smearing up the glass doors with fingerprints, drool and nose goo, which are absolutely two of my least favorite things.
As for Grace, she suffers from a debilitating, chronic case of "I'm bored"-dom. Everything is boring, inspires boredom and results in boredom. Everything we have is boring, everything we get is boring, and everything in the world is a big, fat, boring disappointment. It's a little maddening, and fairly boring, to hear this complaint day in and day out. Her other contributions to my demise include being the messiest person in the world. Or, at least, under this roof.
Minus their individual skills, the kids often join forces, partaking in general squabbling, slapping, and, as a friend once termed it, the throwing of the no-fair flag. “No fair!” shouts Liam. “It’s not faaaaaair!!!!!” cries Grace. “No fair, Mama!” whimpers Nadia, softly, due to her impaired throat. I can almost see in Declan’s eyes that he is thinking the same, as I put an end to his latest head-cracking activity.
In moments of lucidity, I know there’s no conspiracy theory and I know that they’re just kids being kids, and that they’re actually pretty good kids, at that. But, in my child-induced haze of anxiety and paranoia, moments of clarity are few and far in between. And in those long hours and days of being vastly outnumbered in the ridiculously named “summer vacation,” I watch them warily, trying to combat their dastardly intentions with all the fortitude I can muster, in the hope of maintaining what little sanity remains, until the glorious start of school in the fall.