The only house in my price range in the neighborhood I’d ideally like to live in burned down. No, really. It’s a lovely house from the outside and sort of exactly what I’d like to pay for a home, and on a quiet street too. Now, I’m willing to overlook things like Miami Vice-style paint jobs and industrial carpet, since those things can easily be replaced. But when a house is designed in something you’d call “incendiary” it’s likely off of the table. So, there’s a strong possibility that I might be homeless in the next coming months. Movers are coming tomorrow, stagers on Thursday. Our house officially goes on the market the first week of January. So, let’s just keep our fingers crossed that MY home comes on the market soon, or else I might be moving in with you, with my three children, my husband, and a dog. The upside is that my husband cooks and my children are well-behaved in front of other people.
Maybe that’s the trick to keep my children from fighting every single minute of every single day — communal living. I mean, it worked for Israeli pioneers, right?
In all seriousness, though. It seems that my children do not like each other, which is a shame, really, because I am a fan of all three of them and think they are pretty awesome people. SHE IS BREATHING NEAR ME, is an actual complaint that I receive on a more-than-regular basis. Breathing. As in, that thing people do to live. They are not fans.
It’s just a phase, you say. Well, it’s a pretty lousy stage that has lasted for a really long time. One day they will appreciate each other, you say. And I believe you because I fought with my siblings and was the recipient of the maternal, “I will turn this car around…” threat on many occasions.
Once upon a time they did actually like each other, but I’m pretty sure Isabella was still in diapers. It was also, you should note, back when I could still match my children and dress them.
Oh how I really miss when I could dress them. Because sometimes I manage to make good parenting decisions, I try to give them freedoms to dress themselves, and as long as they are dressed appropriately, I try to bite my tongue and let them express themselves. BUT, If I could dress them, I wouldn’t have to fight with my 8th grader about the length of her skirts. If I could dress them Josh wouldn’t wear the same exact Packers t-shirt every single day. “What? It was the top shirt in my drawer!” “Then clearly I am doing laundry too often.” If I could dress them, we wouldn’t take Isabella out in her creations. Creation is the only good word to describe this child’s style. Also, we would never have to have that fun leggings are not pants conversation. I miss that.
But I miss when they could tolerate each other’s breathing more because that one’s just a wee bit tougher than short skirts and Packers t-shirts.
They argue in the morning before school. Someone is too slow, someone is too fast, and someone’s toothpaste is a mess in the bathroom. Someone is in someone else’s way. They argue at night before bed. Someone is too slow, someone is too fast, and someone’s toothpaste is a mess in the bathroom. Again. Someone is in someone else’s way. They walk into the house after school angry at each other. My children, friends, are unable to walk the 1.5 blocks home from school together without a fight of some sort. Someone was too slow, someone was too fast, and someone’s friend was looking at someone in a weird way. (Actual example, by the by.)
There is nothing these children will not argue. You say the sky is blue. Nope, you are wrong, it’s turquoise. You say it’s cold outside. Oh no, it’s most definitely not cold outside. They are also experts in the art of placing blame on someone else. It’s not my cup. I wasn’t the one who didn’t flush the toilet. That’s someone else’s socks on the couch.
And the goddamn button-pushing.
Last week, Josh waltzed into the house and called to me, “Mama! Isabella has amazing news to tell you!”
AND CUE THE TEARS.
It turns out that Isabella got an A+ on her spelling test. Since Isabella owns a tiara and a sash for being the world’s worst speller, this was fantastic news. The best news, really. She was so excited to show me the paper and tell me the news. So, of course, as brothers do, Josh had to be the one to tell me that she had good news. Now, technically, he will argue, he didn’t actually tell me the news, just that she had news to tell. Still, Isabella cried for a good 45 minutes and I’m sure there was at least three “I hate you”s thrown around there. Because he knew exactly which buttons to push. They all do. They are the very best button-pushers around.
Occasionally, I ask them to walk straight out of the front door and stand on the porch until they are able to walk into my house at 3:30 with smiles on their faces and love in their hearts. Sometimes I actually sing that song and make them watch this scene because it’s not just a good holiday movie, it’s a good anytime. And when Bill Murray tells you to sing, you sing. (For the record, my favorite holiday movies are, in no particular order: Love, Actually and National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation and Elf and Scrooged. I also really like the most terrible movie ever, The Family Stone. It’s shameful really.)
I think I’m just going to tell them we are going to live on a kibbutz.