September 13, 2006

Love, Valour, Compassion

Parents go to extraordinary lengths for their children. It is an evolutionary prerogative, of course, but what of people who have tubes retied to produce a second child as a marrow donor for the first child, those who donate organs, those who find themselves in dire poverty to pay for a child's medical or legal needs, people who DIE for their children? These news-worthy heroes always astonish me . . . people who undertake an act of amazing love, valor and compassion.

Luckily, I am not in such a situation. My life with Hart and Jeff calls for heroics, no doubt, but of the smaller, more modest sort. It works this way: I force myself to be patient most of the time until the 32nd occurrence of some behavior, then I explode. No matter, the boys are always up for number 33, 34, 35, 36. They never tire of aberrant behavior, even if they know that it is abnormal.

Ever so often, I cash in my chips all at once. "Do you know why we will never have another pet? Do you, do you!?" Yes, they do. "We bothered the cat," someone will mutter. But not once or twice, or even daily. "How many times a day did I say, 'Leave her alone?'" "Hundreds," they confess. Every single day.

"You are so crabby, Mommy," they tell me. Oh yes, I know I am. You would be crabby too if you were awakened every single weekday for over ten years in the wee hours of the morning. Every single day.

"Did you brush your teeth today?"

"Keep your hands to yourself and do not touch each other."

"Dirty clothes go in the chute." Pray, tell me, do 25-year-old men still fling their dirty underwear at each other? The boys think it is hilarious even after doing it for years!

"If I am speaking to your brother, you must wait to speak."

"Stay in your seat while you are eating." (Sadly, a complete lost cause. It's not a realistic goal: I reward Hart if he gets up fewer than three times.)

"Stop screaming." Variations: "Stop screaming, I am in the same room." "Stop screaming, we are in the same zip code." "Stop screaming AND stop touching each other." "Stop screaming. I am on the phone." "Stop screaming. It's 4 am on Saturday."

Every single day.

I am not really living in a hard-hitting documentary, as I occasionally imagine. I am living GROUNDHOG DAY, like Bill Murray, reliving the same exact day over and over again.

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