I remember teaching my third grade students to think like writers – to live like writers. I encouraged them to see their lives through the eyes of a storyteller. Oh, how I loved teaching writing.
I miss those students. Some days I think teaching a class of twenty-two children belonging to other people is easier than managing a day with two children belonging to me. I digress…
Just as I taught my students, a continual narration runs through my head regularly. As I experience a long drive in the car with my kids, I imagine the parts I would tell you. Certainly, I’d include this conversation:
“Mommy! Mommy! Open your eyes! Mommy! Mommy! Open your eyes!”
“Bunder, I know you have lots to tell me, but Mommy really needs a nap. Will you please be quiet while I sleep? Watch your movie or color with your crayons.”
“Okay Mommy. I’ll be quiet so you can sleep.”
“Thank you, Pumpkin.”
Ten seconds pass.
“Mommy! Mommy! Are you asleep? Mommy! Are you asleep?”
Sometimes, I’m so caught up in watching the story unfold, narrating it in my mind that I forget to react. I forget to parent. I know! I’m that lady- the one sitting back all calm and reflectively watching my children wreak havoc on innocent bystanders. Such was the case earlier this week.
All day Sunday and most of Monday morning, I built anticipation with my children to visit the Butterfly House. “Oh, I can’t wait to see the butterflies! I can’t believe the blue Morphos are back! I wonder if one will land on me again this year.”
Why do I do this? I’m not certain. Is it to extend the fifteen-minute trip into a grander excursion than it really is? Is it to encourage cooperative and obedient behavior prior to the journey? Or is it my own twisted masochistic tendency? I think the latter. Surely, after this many years as a stepparent and parent, I should know better. All too often circumstances outside of my control ruin my schemes. Ah, the best laid plans of mice and moms.
Truly, I blame myself for Monday’s calamity. After all, I stoked the fire of excitement for Bunder and Kiki. I built the Butterfly House up so high, not even Godzilla could climb it.
I thought these thoughts as I watched my offspring kick and pound on the doors of the Butterfly House Monday morning. Over their shrieks and cries, I attempted to read the sign to them, “Closed on Mondays.”
They didn’t hear me. I stepped back and observed. Dreadful to admit, I wished for a video camera to record their tantrums. No video camera existed, so I pressed record in my mind – narrating the story as I watched.
Seconds, (okay maybe minutes later), I snapped out of my trance as other parents tried to console my kin. I tried not to laugh (okay, I did laugh, but I tried not to – shouldn’t that count for something).
For the benefit of the bystanders, I said all the things a parent should say in such a situation, “Oh, I know you’re upset. I’m upset, too. I feel frustrated that the Butterfly House isn’t open today. See the doors are locked. We can’t go inside. Don’t worry. We’ll come back tomorrow. Blah, blah, blah.”
I said all this while I half carried, half-dragged Bunder and Kiki toward the car. This was not an easy task with a 25-pound toddler, 35-pound toddler, and 10-pound diaper bag. But of course, I deserved it. I was the nitwit who set up this disaster.
At least, we made it through the doors on Tuesday.