As I type this, little Fern is in the crib screaming a fit because she was given water to drink at bedtime instead of juice. It’s actually way past bedtime. A whole hour past eight o’clock.
I am tired and all I want the girls to do is go to sleep. I want to go to sleep. Sometimes I put the girls to bed early when I find I am at my wit’s end for the day. Sometimes they go to bed at 7:30. Last night, I put them to bed at 6:30, because I could not cope with them dawdling over the food they’d been starving out loud for since 4 in the afternoon. I was ready pull my hair out and bang my head on the wall. Sometimes the frustrations of single mommy land overwhelm and overtake me. Like yesterday.
They’d seen me crying that afternoon and were good little girls to just conk out like they did. They must have been tired, to sleep so quickly at that early hour.
I went to my first PTA school get together this evening. Ollie was performing in her kindergarten’s musical skit. She was a cat.
Before the meeting, the children were both giving neon signals that they needed a nap, especially Ollie. When your 6 year old bawls for half an hour because the pants you wanted her to try on are too tight, a good nap is in order.
When your two year old breaks into tears and wants to “pick you up”, well, there’s a nap needed there, too.
But I couldn’t get either one of them to rest. They were both too busy crying.
When they cry, I really sometimes feel like a dragon about to burn the house down and stab a forked tail over and over into the plaster wall.
There is crying every day. I’m assuming this is normal for children, siblings.
I am the only one who hears it. I am the only one that gets cried at. Gets cried on. Gets temper tantrumed upon. Is the cause of the cries. Is the healer of the cries. Is the wipers of the cries.
I am the bearer of the cries. And crying is the worst noise in the world. Sometimes I scream that last part, when I’ve had enough.
Fern is no longer screaming. She did not get juice and she gave up after a good war of wits. She’s a determined young thing, stubborn as a tick.
The crying started again soon after we’d arrived home after the PTA meeting. Worn out and frayed as I’ve been feeling of late, the first complaints of my children were met with the declaration of bedtime.
Whines of disagreement cut short.
TIME FOR BED. GO. GET. IN. THE BED.
I tried to make it special, at least. I tucked them in and made houses out of their beds. Gave Fern’s crib a blanket roof. Hung blankets to cover the sides of Ollie’s bunk bed. Gave kisses.
Night night. Sleep tight. Don’t let the bed bugs bite. Sweet dreams, I love you.
Love you too. Their voices are sugar.
Lights out. Deep breath sighed, eyes closed in brief meditation, standing outside their door.
“Mama, I want a glass of waterrrr.”
GAAAAHHHH! I JUST WANT THEM TO GO TO SLEEP! When I turn out the lights, I want them to just shut off their little request system, close their eyes and leave me be until the morning. Honestly. Just go to sleep! GO!!! TO SLEEP!!!!
I’m typing loudly on the keyboard for emphasis.
I get the water. I take it back. Fern has crawled out of her bed house into Ollie’s bed house. I pull her out. I put her back in her bed. I cover her up. I tell her to stay in her bed. I do not rebuild her blanket house.
A few minutes later, “Mommy, Fern’s in my bed.”
Back into the room. Fern extraction and crib replacement occur. A slight slap on the leg to tell her to stay in her bed.
It was not a hard spank. It was hardly a spank at all. But it brought the cry. And oh, I dislike the cry, but this one was short. No legs were stinging, no babies harmed in this disciplining.
A few minutes later. All the lights in the house turned off except for in my room. “Mama, Fern’s in my bed.”
I don’t say anything. I don’t care anymore. I just want them to fall asleep.
“Mama, Fern’s in my bed.” Again, I say nothing. Do nothing. I just want them to go. to. sleep.
“Mama, Fern’s taking off her diaper.”
hhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh (this is a long loud sigh)
I go into the children’s bedroom and, yes. Fern is on her sister’s bed with her diaper half off. She has her pacifier in her mouth and she says she has to pee pee.
Her diaper is dry so I believe her, and without a quip we go into the bathroom to sit on her potty.
“Can I come, too?” Ollie has such a sweet innocent voice.
Yes. We all go into the bathroom. Fern sits on her potty. I sit on the big potty. Ollie pulls up the step stool, and we sit in a triangle formation, in loving support of Fern trying to use the potty.
Ollie says, “Tell a story, Mommy!”
So this is the story I told….
Once upon a time there were three crickets. A mama cricket, a sister cricket, and a little baby cricket.
And one night after a long long day, the mama cricket was very tired, and all she wanted was for her little crickets to close their eyes, put their heads on their pillows, and snuggle up under their fuzzy blankets and fall asleep.
After a good meal of corn chowder, homemade bread and fresh milk, Mama cricket felt sure that her babies would soon fall fast asleep.
She tucked them into their beds, and kissed them upon their heads, and played them a night night lullaby, the kind that crickets are known for.
Mama cricket closed the door to her children’s bedroom and went around the house, blowing out the candles, and turning the locks in the door. She put on her old purple and blue nightgown and yawned a very slow and beautiful yawn.
She lit the lamp by her bedside, crawled under her big brown blanket, and opened her book to begin reading.
And then she heard it. Chirp. Chirp, chirp. Chirp, chirp, chirp, chirp chirp. Chirp Chirp! Chripchirpchirpchirpchirrp!
Mama cricket closed her eyes and let her head hit with a defeated little bump against the bedframe. She sighed. She whooped off the covers, slung her legs over the side of the bed, lit a candle, and shuffled down the hallway to the bedroom of her children.
The chirping got louder the closer she got, and she knocked three times before entering.
When she entered the room she found that baby cricket had crawled into sister cricket’s bed, and they were both giggling and chirping and kicking their legs in the air in a fancy glee, an excitement in the air.
Mama cricket, tired, didn’t say a word. She picked Baby cricket up, put her back in her crib, covered her up, and gave a little sigh. She turned and tucked Sister cricket back under the blankets and said rather quietly, “I am very tired. I want to go to sleep. Please go to sleep. ”
Sleepily, Mama cricket walked back down the hall to her bedroom, settled down under the covers, put the closed book on the nightstand, blew out the lamp, and closed her eyes to go to sleep.
She heard it again. The chirping. The chirping of her children. Chirp, chirp, chirping so happy and loud. CHIRP CHIRP CHIRPING! CHIRP CHIRP CHIRP!
Make it stop, Mama cricket thought.
The chirping did not stop. So Mama cricket, lit the lamp, to light the candle, pushed her covers back, rolled out of bed and down the hall, where the chirping was even louder and more hearty.
Mama cricket knocked on the door of her children’s bedroom again three times. Much, much, louder this time.
This time she found Sister cricket had crawled in bed with Baby cricket, and they were making silly cricket faces and singing silly cricket songs.
Mama cricket was not happy. Mama cricket was tired and her patience was as small as a loaf crumb. Mama cricket was firm, her tone serious. “It is time for bed. I am VERY VERY TIRED and I need YOU CRICKETS to cut out ALL THE CHIRPING and GO to SLEEP!! If you stay up too late, you will miss the snow that will be here in the morning. By the time you wake the sun will be high in the sky and all the good snow will have melted. So get some sleep! You don’t want to miss the snow, do you?”
Sister cricket took an excited breath, “SSNOOOW? EEEEEE!!!”
“Yes, snow” Mama cricket confirmed. “So get some sleep now. Go to sleep.”
Everyone tucked in and quiet, satisfied, Mama cricket walked back down the hall to her bedroom where she promptly flopped on her comfy mattress, covered her head with her pillow and went fast asleep.
Mama cricket slept so soundly that she did not hear the whispered, and occasionally not so whispered chirps of her children as they slunked under the covers of Sister’s bed and spoke of all the wonderful things they would do when it snowed.
Sister cricket said, “Baby cricket, when it snow in the morning we can go sledding on Turtle Hill! And we can build snowmen, and dress them up!”
“I want to build snowman!” Baby chimed in.
“And, Baby Cricket! We can make a whole army of snow angels! And we can make jewelry for them out of pine cones and branches and rocks!”
“And we can paint them!” Baby cricket added.
“Paint them? YES! We can paint them PINK! And purple!”
“And red!” Baby chirped way too loudly.
“And blue, and yellow, ” Sister continued. “And, Baby! We can make snow igloos! Do you know what snow igloos are, Baby?”
“What’s that?” Baby cricket wondered.
“A snow igloo is a house made out of snow! And when it snows we can build one! And we can make a snow fort, and snowballs! And Mama can make snow cream! And we can help! And we can make a snow tunnel! And a snow slide! BABY! I’m so excited it’s going to SNOW!!!!”
Baby cricket chirped and chirped a singsong, “Snow! Snow! Snow!” and soon Sister joined her in a long song of excitement for the morning snow.
Mama cricket did not hear her baby crickets as they chirped excited about the oncoming snow late into the night and into the dark hours of the morning. She slept deeply and soundly and for a long long time that night.
When she awoke the next morning and looked at the clock it was mid-morning, almost 11 o’clock! She had not heard, and still had not heard a peep from her children all morning. Very odd, she thought. You see, her cricket children were usually fresh and bouncing out of the beds by 7 o’clock at the latest! Mama cricket did not remember when the last time she’d slept so late into the morning.
Curious, Mama cricket donned her slippers and slipped down the hallway, where she still did not hear one single chirp coming from her children’s bedroom.
She did not knock. She creaked the door open very very slowly, and stuck her head in.
She saw Sister cricket and Baby cricket curled up and snoring softly next to one another on the bed, and she smiled and went into the kitchen to make herself some toast and tea.
She was just spreading some delicious marmalade on her toast when Sister cricket came into the kitchen rubbing her eyes, trying to break the spell of an all night awake.
“Good morning,” Mama cricket welcomed her cricket daughter. “You slept late!”
“What time is it?” Sister asked.
“Quarter past eleven, dear!”
With a desperate realization, Sister loudly drew in her breath and rushed to the window to see the sun high in the sky and the little bit of snow that had fallen during the night melting into puddles and mud. Sister cricket began to cry because she’d missed the chance to play in the snow. So loud and true was her let down disappointment, that she woke Baby cricket, who then, too began to cry. Because sister was crying. When Baby cricket found out that the reason Sister was crying was because the snow was mostly melted, the crying from the two sisters became an extended wail of sad sad chirps.
Mama cricket, sensing an opportunity for a lesson told them, “I told you to go to sleep and get a good night’s rest so you would not miss the snow! Perhaps next time you should listen!”
This did not make the cricket children feel any better, and they sulked through their late breakfast. They were cross crickets for much of the day, too crabby for much fun of any sort, though Mama cricket tried to bring their spirits up by playing games and reading books with them. They were just too tired and out of sorts, and too sad that they had missed the snow to make much good of the day.
Sister and Baby cricket went to bed early that night. And easily, too. “Night night. Sleep tight. Don’t let the bedbugs bite. Sweet Dreams. I love you.”
“I love you, too.”
All Mama cricket had to do was kiss their foreheads and tuck them into bed, blow out the candle and close the door. She could already hear their soft sweet snores.
She padded up the hallway to her bedroom, knowing that tomorrow when her children awoke, they would be the happiest crickets they could be.
The night was still and silent. The morning took it’s time to come around.
Sister woke early the next morning, right as the sun was peeking in through the window beside her bed. She rubbed her eyes and stretched and yawned. She sat in her bed a moment, letting herself slowly blossom this new day. She looked out the window, and….
She looked out the window and, “SNOOOOOOOOOOOOOW! SNOOOOOOW! Baby! Baby! Wake up! SNOOOOOOW!”
Baby cricket shot up like a bolt from her crib and questioned, “SNOW? SNOW?” and looked out the window where Sister was jumping and pointing.
The cold night had brought with it a blanket of snow that covered the ground with a deep precision. Not one stalk of long grass rose above the crest of the new fallen snow. There was untouched snow as far as the eye could see, and it was a wonderfully beautiful scene.
Hearing the excited chirps of Sister and Baby, Mama cricket put on her robe and slippers and smiled as she walked down the hall to where the commotion of chirping was coming from.
Upon seeing their Mama enter the room, Sister and Baby cricket ran to hug her saying, “Mama! It SNOWED! MAMA! IT SNOWED!! Can we go out and play in it? Please? PLEASE?”
After a quick breakfast of oatmeal, Mama cricket dressed Sister cricket and Baby cricket in many layers of their warmest clothes, tied their hats and boots, stuffed them into their gloves, wrapped them in scarves and sent them out to play in the snowy snowy day.
Sister and Baby made a snowman. And then a snow woman. Soon their cricket and bug friends were all out playing in the snow, too! There were snow bears and snow rabbits being made.The meadow was turning into a garden of snow creatures! Soon everyone turned their attention to Turtle Hill and Sister and Baby cricket joined their friends to go sledding down the long slope over and over again.
Sister and Baby cricket did not want to miss anything on this snow day and when Mama cricket called them for lunch they told her they weren’t hungry, and pleaded with her to let them stay outside.
Mama cricket smiled, consented, and went in to curl up on the couch by the fire to read her book, nap, and eat cheese sandwiches.
Sister and Baby cricket ran to make snow angels with their friends. They made a whole flock of angels in the snow, and decorated a few with some sticks and rocks.
Mid-afternoon brought out some of the older bug children, and some bug parents, and the whole bug neighborhood built ice forts and igloos. Sister and Baby helped roll snowballs for the fort they were building with the Catipillar children, and soon there were snowballs and laughter flying in all directions on the meadow.
It was almost time for the sun to begin setting when Mama cricket called Sister and Baby into the house. She greeted them with cups of hot cocoa and helped them hang their wet clothes by the door.
Mama cricket dressed her children in the winter pajamas she had warmed by the fire and sat the children down at the dinner table for a hot filling bowl of dumplings, and she listened to the stories of the day that her children told.
After dinner Mama cricket sat the children in her lap to read a book, and then she carried them one by one and laid them in their beds. “I’m glad that you’ve both had a long fun day. You must be worn out, get a good night’s sleep, okay?”
“Night night. Sleep tight. Don’t let the bed bugs bite. Sweet dreams, I love you.”
“I love you, too.”
Mama cricket kissed her children on their foreheads and made sure that they were tucked good into bed, blew out the candle and opened the door to go to bed herself when Sister spoke sleepily. “Mama?”
“That was the best snow day ever.” Sister rolled over onto her side and brought the covers over her ears.
“I’m glad you had a good time, dear. Night night.”
And with that, Mama cricket made her way to bed, curled up under her brown blanket, and slept as soundly as a Mama whose children are fast asleep can.
Yes. That’s the story I made up as we sat in a triangle formation waiting for Fern to poop in the potty.
And she did poop! Fern pooped! In the potty!
Annnnnnd all over the back of her nightgown. I was so involved in story time, that I did not notice her bottom cheeks were rested squarely upon the back of her gown.
Poop all over the gown.
But not as important (or as exciting) as the poop in the potty!
Got this Mama chirping, ya’ll.