Even on a bad nap day, I can usually count on an hour to get things done. Manny might be talking to himself or jumping wildly for the entire time, but my hands are free and that is worth celebrating. Today was a nap day that a few months ago would have ruined my day. The girls were only down for forty minutes and Manny didn't sleep at all. All three kids were crying at the same time and I was ferrying them down the stairs, trying to calm each one enough to set them down so I could go get the next one.
With Glory in her high chair eating Trader Joe's Os, green, thick snot lodged between her nostril and her lip and Elena chewing on the straps of the Ergo on the rainbow gymnastic mat in the dining room, I began to make preparations to leave the house, the only way to preserve my sanity with such a long afternoon stretch to fill. Make rice. This was the one item I could not forget, otherwise dinner would never be ready on time. Manny likes to pull up a chair and help dump the rice and the water in the rice cooker. When we do this, I feel like a great mom because I am facilitating an opportunity for him to become acclimated to kitchen duties and therefore take over all dinner prep by the time he enters grade school. If his tastes do not change, all of our meals will consist of raisins, cookies and meat. Manny poured the rice and water perfectly. We were both so pleased with ourselves when the lid was shut and the start button was pressed that Manny picked up a tupperware off the counter and put it on his head like a hat. This is how you express happiness when you are two. Unfortunately, it contained two inches of water, which soaked his shirt. If he had napped, maybe, MAYBE he could have laughed, but with no nap, all he could do was flip open his mouth like the cartoon man from the Oral B commercial and scream, fat tears streaming down his cheeks. And I, having no buffer from no break, just laughed. The harder he cried, the harder I laughed and tried to convince him to laugh with me. No deal. Eventually, he pathetically said, between sobs, "go zoo?!?" I said yes and we had a terrific afternoon.
I am constantly coming up with "carrots" to hang in front of Manny to get him to do things I want him to do. Manny can take thirty minutes to walk one block, and this is when he is really excited about the destination. As soon as we pulled into the garage from our trip to the zoo, I started to talk to Manny about going upstairs and opening the door to the deck for Aslan. This worked! Manny went straight for the door! My fatal mistake was going into Sam's empty office, right next to the deck, to turn on music. Manny saw the door swing open and grabbed his plastic bat and tee as though we were going to engage in a lively game of baseball. We have a "no playing in the office rule" and there was an immediate meltdown combined with a total lack of listening resulting in an order to head straight to the time out chair. More screaming and flailing. Now I felt bad. I mean, opening the door to the office when Manny was right there was akin to putting a chocolate cupcake on Manny's plate and then getting mad at him for eating it because it was really MY cupcake. So I sat next to the time out chair, ready to explain this. But first I felt like he owed me an apology for being such a violent drama queen. So I said, very gently, "Can you say sorry to me?" And he says, sobbing, "Sorry me." And again, just like with the water over the head, I crack up. He screams harder. Pull it together, I tell myself! I apologize for creating this muck in which we are now wading in and promises of Daddy coming home get us through the next fifteen minutes before Sam actually walks through the door.
After Manny's extended shower, Sam had to wrestle him to the bed to put on his diaper. (Manny takes longer showers than a teenager these days because it is something for him to do while we get the babies ready for bed. By the way, if you have never seen a two year old take a shower, it's just funny. His little body parts and his big, round belly, not to mention the constant yanking of his penis. Priceless.) Anyway, once his diaper was in place and the initial pee danger had passed, we were both too exhausted to broach his onesie. I was trying to nurse Elena and Glory was laying on the bed, an easy target for Manny to pounce on. In an attempt to buy some peace and some time, Sam asked Manny to go to his room for a library book (one of Manny's most favorite things). He took off like a shot, his chubby naked legs shooting out more to the side than to the back, and we turned our attention to the girls. After a period of silence, I heard his feet pounding back down the hall. I look up, and to my surprise, he is running with a full-size laundry basket over his head, the rim of which comes almost to his ankles. Again, I crack up and for the first time today, Manny and I are laughing hysterically at the same thing. What a great way to end the day.