I stand in the kitchen and look around as Nolan gallops in circles with a fist full of bright orange crackers. He stole them from the pantry, and is now leaving a trail on a floor that’s already more food scraps than floor. Caden jumps from piece of furniture to piece of furniture, complete with blanket cape and Lego Batman clenched in hand. Brooklyn walks by wearing only underwear for reasons I don't really know.
It’s three o’ freaking clock in the afternoon.
That’s it?! That can’t be right. I blink at the digital clocks on both the stove and the microwave. Could they possibly both be wrong? After the day I’ve had, surely it must be tomorrow by now.
We’ve already done all the things today and I’m not really sure what else I’m supposed to do with these children. I have plenty to do, of course. The checklist in my mind is full of everything from appointments to schedule to straightening the black hole that is our mudroom to actually cleaning up our crumb-ridden floor. But not with these things around picking fights, stealing food, and embracing their inner nudists.
This morning we attempted to go to the library. Our favorite library. I had to put the kibosh on that after a pathetic half hour spent chasing a shrieking Nolan back to the children’s section about twelve times too many. We drove home and walked to the park to get that energy out but were driven home all too soon by some raindrops and my own overly full bladder. The clock finally signaled lunchtime which was a relief (something to do!) until the four-year old crowd chugged from their water bottles and spit it right back out onto the floor. So then the two-year old copied them. Y’know, just for fun. (Side note: you’d think my floor would look a whole lot cleaner than it does right now.) The confiscation of said water bottles led to tears and screaming. So many tears and so much screaming. The neighbors would have thought I’d ripped someone’s arm off if our windows had been open. Maybe it’s a good thing it’s raining. The twenty minutes on the clock before I deemed it late enough to enforce quiet time dragged and of course quiet time ended far too soon.
I sink to the floor in exhaustion and try to come up with something fun for us all. I hear cushions being ripped off the couch in the living room and spy little feet out the corner of my eye, pitter-pattering to the pantry for another fistfull of forbidden crackers. Another trail of crumbs. I pretend not to see or I’ll have to enforce a consequence. At least it keeps him occupied.
What to do? Play Doh is too messy and doesn’t interest the two-year old for long, we’ve already had our fair share of screen time this afternoon, and I’d prefer the house to not be destroyed more than it already has been today. Two more hours...two more hours…two more hours...
My mind wanders as I think of how I’d really like to enjoy a rainy afternoon. To lose myself completely in a book. To Netflix binge in the full sense of the word, not the two maaayyybe three episodes if we’re feeling daring that make up our parents-of-young-children version of binge-watching now. I’d love to sit in the quiet and listen to the rain outside and really do a whole lot of not much at all.
My thoughts are broken by another shriek, a wail, tears in a couple sets of eyes from an incident my own eyes didn’t see. These kids sure have a different agenda than “quiet” and “nothing at all”. I dole out hugs, try to temper harsh words and arguments with my own attempt at calm ones.
I look outside to see the rain has lightened up. Caden and Brooklyn settle into some sort of pretend play together so I take the opportunity to scoop Nolan up and walk with him in my arms to the end of the driveway to check the mail. (Junk. All of it. So not worth it.) I realize that not only has the rain lightened, but it’s stopped completely. We drop the mail off in the mudroom and velcro sandals on his little feet. He grabs his new blue scooter. Brother and sister somehow sense we are having fun without them and appear at the door behind us.
Nolan abandons his scooter completely and takes off at a run down the sidewalk. Speed is his preferred mode of transportation and he can still get nowhere the fastest by running. I take off after him as Caden and Brooklyn pass us by in a blue and pink blur, speed demons on their own scooters.
“Hey!” a neighbor calls out and raises her hand in a wave. She’s sitting in her garage, her own three year old boy next to her. I breathe in relief as we make our way towards her. A grown up! She must have noticed the rain lightened up and needed the escape, too. We wander over and she asks how I’m doing.
“Uggghhhhh,” I reply. I’m beyond words at this point. We lived through six months of winter but apparently this rainy day is the thing that’s going to do us all in.
She laughs and invites us inside. “Sounds like our day yesterday.”
We kick off wet shoes in their mudroom. Their own shoes and miscellaneous stuff that make up life with their own three kids are strewn around. The kids immediately find the playroom. I find a chair. I look around to see dishes on the counter, toys scattered across the floor, child locks on the cabinets. Feels like home.
We chat. I sink in the couch. Our conversation is interrupted more often than not. Kids run around. They scream. They steal apple slices from the counter and walk around the house crunching them.
I realize that her children are as insane as mine on a rainy afternoon. Good.