This worldwide pandemic is scary and weird, but we are privileged enough that we are doing ok. We are lucky because we both can continue to work from home (indeed, I always have, and I can give Bob some Slack pointers), our kids are smart and resourceful, and we are all healthy. We are around each other 24/7 which is, and I mean this from the bottom of my heart, scary and weird. Kidding! Kind of. It’s wondrous in some ways; we really get to be around the very best people all the time. But it’s exhausting, too, because, as the adults, we are always tuned in, with no way to tune out. With the twins, this isn’t so much a problem, because they’re eight point five, and they have interests. Henry is putting together a very large Harry Potter Lego set. He also puts together his Kiwi Crates, and then makes other inventions (a lot are focused around the cats and incorporate liberal amounts of catnip). Eleanor creates hidey holes in her bedroom for reading in, primarily. Both of them enjoy their tablets (both playing games and watching videos). They get a lot more screentime than ever before (right now we’re watching “A Series of Unfortunate Events” on Netflix, because we are almost done listening to the series on Audible as our bedtime stories). They also have homework and Zoom calls with their classmates. On nice days (not today, it’s snowing again) we also all spend a lot of time outside, which we are fortunate to be able to do.
But Grant. Grant is a different breed, despite being literally the very same breed. Let me give you an example of Grant. He has a parent with him nearly all the time (sometimes he wanders between us and is out of contact with one or the other for a few minutes), and yet, he still can cause a shocking amount of mayhem in a frighteningly short amount of time. Everything that comes next happened in one day (yesterday). First, some background: Grant starts out sleeping in his own room, but inevitably makes his way upstairs to our room, and there upon spends his time kicking, hitting, and grinding his head into kidneys. We move him to a cot mattress on the floor, tuck him in, and go back to sleep in relative peace. The night that preceded the day I’m going to describe, Grant came up to our room, coughing. He laid down on his little cot mattress, but couldn’t stop coughing, and asked for a breathing treatment. So I took him to his room (where his nebulizer is) and gave him one. From the time we went downstairs until he fell asleep after the treatment, about an hour elapsed making it around 3:30am. I put him into his own bed, and went back to my room, and could not fall asleep the rest of the night. So that’s the background.
I was dozing in bed when Grant flopped on me, holding a cup that he had filled with chocolate syrup. He had been drinking fairly liberally from it.
I got him hustled downstairs to clean him up and dump out the syrup. Throughout the course of the day, he:
- Threw a dumbbell at me
- Picked up a cat upside down
- Slammed a door on a cat’s tail
- Created a mountain of cat food on the floor
- Brushed the “teeth” of several of his toy cars
- Took all the couch cushions off the couch (this one just gets under my skin)
- Kicked Henry’s Legos
- Laid down on Eleanor so she couldn’t get up (this one is pretty funny)
- Laid down on several cats so they, too, couldn’t get up (this is not very funny)
- Invaded several Business Style calls
- Screamed for lunch, then refused to eat his lunch
- Refused to poop on the potty (but did still poop)
And then it was time for Bob to take over for the afternoon. There was some quietness (from my perspective), but before I wrapped up my workday, Grant had visited me with an open jar of peanut butter under his arm, which he was eating out of with his fingers, and had apparently thrown my phone at the TV, and had broken the TV. So. That was all one day with him. Shortly after that, it was time for him to go to bed. He screamed at me and hit me because I wasn’t the one putting him to bed, and then he demanded two very grumpy kisses.
He slept very soundly last night. (As I type this, he has pushed my laptop out of my lap and has kicked my keyboard and laptop several times while telling me I’m Jesus Christ. He is why people say “I can’t even.”)
There’s a trope of the naughty little boy (Dennis the Menace, Calvin, Bart Simpson for some examples); little chaos agents who cause trouble that belies their tiny stature. And these boys aren’t bad, they just do bad things. There’s always some incident where their better nature surfaces, and we’re reminded that they are, in fact, small humans trying to make their way, to not be ignored or forgotten, with little bird hearts beating in their narrow chests. Last night, as I was walking Grant down from my room to dinner, after work, he said in his deliberate way “Mom, I am very sorry I broke your TV, very sorry mom.” It’s not a grand gesture by any means, but it’s enough.