Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Manic Wednesday

I knew today was going to be insane. I forgot that I will have to drive the kids to preschool in the morning. That means getting the baby dressed and fed by 8:30, getting myself ready at the same time, helping 6 yo and 3 yo pack their lunches (they decided that they want to pack them) and shoving everyone out the door. The total driving takes an hour in the morning, so I am not back till 9:30. At 10, we leave for the coop. The baby falls asleep on the way back home. Her nap schedule is changing, and she is not so little any more to fall asleep in the car any time I drive. However, she is asleep and I transfer her into the house for a half an hour nap.

I get my lunch in order, and discover that boys did not pack theirs. They scramble for something, and I overlook that there is probably not enough food, and no fresh growing things were harmed in lunch packing. I sit 11 yo down to do chumash. As I was walking out the door this morning, he asked me whether Moshe glimpsed more of Hashem, or Yehezkel. I tell him that Yakov also saw Hashem "face to face" and there is an idea that a maidservant at the Red Sea saw more of Hashem than Yehezkel. (He knows that Hashem does not have a body, so it is not a physical revelation we are talking about.) I tell him that he can look up these places and see if he can order them somehow according to the fullness of revelation. But he did not do it, and I was not there to look them up with him. Instead, he prepared new pesukim, but I want him to do a Rashi on when exactly Moshe was setting up his mysterious personal tent of meeting. He sees the size of that Rashi and rolls not only his eyes, but his whole body. I admit, I am a bit intimidated by the length even with English translation, but I decided that we will diagram it into a timeline, and it will help in ordering the rest of the events. So he pulls himself together and reads. He can translate the whole thing. I diagram every new fact and time frame that we encounter. By the time we are done, it is 10:04. The baby wakes up, 9 yo informs me that we did not get to his chumash and he did prepare it, and 11 yo whines that we never did get to new pesukim, ugh. I grab the baby, grab a change of clothes, grab a few extra diapers, grab my lunch and get out the door.

We get to the coop on time. I nurse the baby. The boys are in their lego robotics class. They are loving it. In fact, when the class is over, they often linger well into the twenty minute break. Finally, they come out. I am pushing baby on the swings, and she is cooing and giggling away. I think how 3 yo hated swings, held on for his dear life. I think how he needed PT to walk and I was told that he had bad trunk control. I worry about this baby not crawling properly on her knees, she scoots on her behind or slides on her belly. But she must have decent trunk control. Or maybe she is fearless? Either way, it would be nice not to have worry about another late walker. While I am pushing her, the boys come to demonstrate the back flip off the swing that their friend taught them. It looks smooth, but it must be terrifying. They practice to do it together.

back flip off the swing

Their second class is on bridge structures. A lot of kids are absent, so the boys get out early. I ask 9 yo whether he would be able to do his prepared chumash with me off my phone (Beta Midrash app). he says that he can do it after lunch. Meanwhile I bump into a mom friend from the other location of the coop. We chat a bit, and then she asks me about 9 yo's behavioral issues. I tell her how I feel very done, defeated. She throws around a few suggestions, tells me to read, we commiserate over hard kids. "Have you prayed about it? Have you had him pray about it?" I stop, whirling. I am supposed to be davening about this kid. I barely get through brachot most mornings, hoping that nobody produces a poopy diaper and cuts my two minutes of organized prayer short. I do ask Hashem every day to help me not yell at my kids, but that has not been very successful. However, while I have taught 9 yo to daven and even told him where to insert his personal requests, I never thought to tell him to daven regarding his behavior.

A light bulb goes off in my head. "Thank you, I really have not thought about that."
"Oh, that's funny. I'm an atheist. But if it would help..."
And then we spend a few minutes chatting how prayer is about gathering your thoughts and reflections and getting clarity in formulating the requests. Did I mention how much I love my coop?

I do catch 9 yo later. "Chumash time?" He sits down next to me and we do his three review pesukim and three new pesukim. He gets worried for a moment that he cannot do them without his binder where he writes new words, but then changes his mind and goes through without a hitch. We are at Dina's rape and not exactly easy material that I want to be covering in the park. He might not even understand what exactly happened to Dina. He notices that after famously being called Leah's daughter, by the time Chamor gets to her, she is Yacov's daughter. Rashi does not comment. 9 yo also thought that Dina was pining for Chamor, so we had to set that straight. But he is done and gone.

At 2 pm, we get in the car to go and pick up 6 yo and 3 yo from preschool. 3 yo needs more diapers. He is not potty-trained yet, and he is at the stage where he wants underwear, but will have nothing to do with a toilet. I much rather deal with diapers than wiping up messes that he made and then tried to clean up on his own. Must remember to send more diapers to school.

bubbles in the museum
I drive the kids to the natural history museum that we rejoined last week. We have picture day at taekwondo, but that does not start till 4, and I do not want to go home for half an hour and then battle the traffic. The museum is just a few minutes away from the dojang, and 3 yo and 6 yo have not been there when we went last week. At 3:15, the parking lot is emptying out. We have the whole place to ourselves, even though there are still two hours till closing. The younger kids do not remember this place at all. I think 3 yo was not even born last time we were members. They ooh and aah over the dinosaur skeletons in the lobby. I warn the kids that we will only be here for an hour, but we will come back another time. Meanwhile, the baby has a dirty diaper and needs to nurse. I find a nursing room and leave 3 yo with the older kids, bur he decides that he wants to be with me, so he runs away, screaming. Then, as I am changing the baby, he runs out, looking for the boys. I sigh and finish the diaper change. 3 yo comes back since he did not find them. I need to nurse and I am in what is technically a nursing room. There is no bathroom, just a rocking chair, a changing table, and a locking door. There are some books and puzzles. I lock the door and sit down to nurse. 3 yo melts down, he does not want to be confined. I talk to him how he wants to get out so badly. I suggest looking at books or the puzzles. He tells me how everything is yucky, but he calms down.

I have mixed feelings about these nursing rooms. It is surely nice that museum provides them. They have nursing mothers in mind, and this one does not have a toilet in it, so it is designated exclusively for nursing. When 6 yo was nursing, I would give such set-up unconditional thumbs up. Yet now I feel that it is almost wrong to tuck nursing mothers away, in another room, far from the exhibits and the rest of the family. I nurse in public with a cover-up and if we really want to encourage breastfeeding, why are we putting moms away? Besides. that room did not have good ventilation, and it stunk of dirty diapers, my baby's included. Then I had to go and find an actual bathroom to wash my hands... somebody thought of this room as a PR gimmick, not as a service.

My kids delight in the museum. I thought it would be a bit boring for the boys, but they are eating it up. I get to stand back and watch all four of the older ones engage in their own ways. These outings are what we do the best. But I have to hustle everyone out since we still need to get to taekwondo and get pictures taken.

waiting for taekwondo picture
I almost chose not to go this year. We only did this once in the past, and I don't want to spend the money on the pictures. But now that I am doing taekwondo too, I want a picture of myself with the boys. Who knows how long I will keep it up? It can all change due to scheduling conflicts, but we can pull it off this year. I tell 6 yo that she will be in charge of her sister while we are getting photographed. What I did not account for was the slow-moving line. We spend time waiting. I take the baby out and let her crawl. She grabs boys' kipas off their heads. 3 yo is running around in circles. I keep on hoping that our turn will come soon. Finally, we get posed and photographed. I told the boys that we are only buying one group shot, not the individual poses. They are disappointed, but not too badly. Then we wait on second line, to select the images and the background. I talked boys out of the flaming background as being too busy. We agreed on something with a tiger in the back. My understated self cringes. Finally, we have to pick the best image. I look at myself: slouching, double chin, tired eyes. I do not look good. I do not look fierce, I do not look like I have this covered, like we are having fun. The boys look nice in almost every shot. I gently steer them towards the least tired-looking image. The baby is screeching and complete strangers are handing her toys that she tossed overboard. Meanwhile 6 yo is protecting her brother from another kid who keeps coming up and doing monster hands in their faces. I hustle everyone out to the car and drive home.

3 yo refuses to be buckled by his brothers and complains about burritos that are for dinner. Waze would not work to direct us home in the fastest way possible. It is 5:30 and the baby is not happy. We pull in and I get into my frenzy mode for everyone to unload the car and carry in more that one little item. I always seem to have my hands literally full with the baby, cups, bags, and keys. I always leave something in the house that belongs in the car and vise versa. We get in and I start dinner: defrosted burritos go on the frying pan,  defrosted corn on the cob goes in the pot, leftover coleslaw to round it off. If I would be any more organized, I would be freaking Marth Stewart. Nobody eats soup except for the baby, 3 yo, and me. 3 yo melts down because his burrito unrolled and the insides spilled out. I cannot help him, since I am seated across the table, feeding the baby. 11 yo asks some deep and meaningful questions about the nature of school and why isn't everyone homeschooled. I try to respond, but it is impossible to keep the conversation going.

My husband is on call overnight, so I am on my own. The baby throws dinner off her high chair tray. I have a Smirnoff Ice and immediately feel my face flushing. It happened with wine before, but I assumed that it was sulfites. I cannot be allergic to alcohol, can I? 6 yo cannot find "Wizard of Oz" that we are reading for a good night story. 3 yo's singing siddur does not work. "It needs new batteries!" I ask for a miniature screwdriver, but it does not fit. The baby does not settle down easily. By the time I finish washing up the dishes and sit down on the couch, it occurs that we did not do new pesukim or the megilah today. 11 yo: "You look tired." I feel tired.

And the crazy part is, this day does not strike me as out of the ordinary. Why am I masterminding this craziness?

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