Friday, November 5, 2010

There Can Be Only One

So this was my first experience suffering through teacher convention week. I still have teacher conferences yet to get through and already I am considering locking my children together in a steel cage and just letting them fight to the pain. (Not to the death, obviously, that would make me a horrible mother, but just to an obscure Princess Bride reference.)

Let me give you an idea of how much time children spend in school this week – in Disney, this seven-day period is referred to as “Jersey Week.” My daughter had school two days out of five (but only attended one day due to a stomach bug). My son had it one day out of two. Their days at school did not overlap. Do you know what this means? It means that I did not get my much needed, deserved, relied upon, and dreamed about four hours off this week. And yes, I realize that since my kids go to bed ridiculously early, that nighttime counts as free time – but with a husband in another state this week, it’s not like I could go run errands or anything. Leaving them home alone is decidedly frowned upon.

It doesn’t get much better as the month progresses. I can’t imagine how much she’ll actually learn in school this month with six days off and six half days. After-school activities also become erratic as everyone tries to adjust to the crazy schedule. Now, I’m a SAHM. A conference in the middle of the day, random dismissal times, and more time off than in is nothing more than a bother for me. Since taking care of them is my job, I can’t really complain about the extra hours. But what about all those parents who don’t have my level of freedom? The ones who are paid hourly? Who only get a handful of days off to try to spread through an entire year? Who only have a certain budget for after-care? November just has to suck for them. Reduced pay checks and pissed off bosses will not make the holiday season any more merry.

So, what to do with kids with endless days off in November? My kids just want to sit on the couch and watch movies. Sounds great in theory, but the execution is the tricky part. Who gets to pick the movie? Pixar or Disney? Scholastic or PBS? My son never sits still for an entire movie, especially once he has seen often. He plays cars by racing them around and around our coffee table while he watches. This means my daughter has to sit herself on the couch and put her feet up on the coffee table – effectively blocking his path. It’s like clockwork. He does A, she does B to piss him off. This hardly makes for a quiet, relaxing afternoon. Instead, it’s like modern warfare. In fact, the longer my children spend in the same room together, the closer we get to visiting CHOP.

I’ve tried to fill the days with fun things, but “The best laid plans of mice and men oft goes astray,” should be the rallying cry of parenthood. No matter what I planned, one child wound up crying, in time out, or both. The main problem is that they are just far apart in age and ability right now that what amuses the youngest bores the oldest, and what amuses the oldest baffles the youngest. The only middle ground is Candyland – and they both cheat.

My new goal is to keep them separated long enough to send them back to school. Because of course, since karma is a spiteful wench, my husband has to work this weekend and I honestly think that if I try to force any more “fun” time on them, it is going to become very Lord of the Flies around here, and I’m Piggy.

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