07 April 2008

If only my father and mother hadn't been right

or Spring break hastens parental decline

The role of the adolescent human being is to do nothing more basic than drive its parent insane to the brink of infanticide; this task is best and most easily accomplished with the assistance of at least one sibling.

Today my children made the journey to their bedrooms in bouts of teen angst and sibling rivalry no less than four times a piece. Perhaps if I hadn't been translating e-mail templates for a hotel client, I might not have lost my cool so much. But when I debate whether I need a subjunctive clause or if I can make do with an infinitive phrase, my patience begins to wear very thin, very fast.

My son must act the clown and tease his sister. My daughter must whine, complain and nit-pick.

Breakfast I think had set the tone for the day. I woke early first to walk the dog and then to make an early morning trek to my neighborhood Publix, where shopping is a pleasure, to retrieve a few essential groceries. Upon my return, my smiling angels greeted me and, after very little cajoling on my part, helped put away foodstuffs. I then prepared a tasty morning meal of chocolate waffles and blackberries. [Aside: Don't ask for the recipe; I'm just not in the mood.] Before I could take even two minutes to eat my own portion, I found myself alone at the table with no hint of thanks, my daughter at the sink griping to her brother about how he'd stacked his cup and plate in the sink. À vos chambres, allez-y tous les deux pour que votre père puisse prendre son petit déjeuner en paix!

Now as I write this mémoire du jour, I look back on the overcast daylight hours as a kind of sine wave tracking their behavior, almost perfect in its regularity of amplitude, frequency and wavelength. There were wonderful but short moments of peace--oddly, they agreed on a television show, even sat together in a chair at Barnes & Noble quietly reading books. [Aside: Here I must give them credit for having learned early in life to be polite and well comported in public, and for the greatest majority of time, they are.]

Home again there were arguments over ketchup and homemade fries. They made snide comments to each other while playing our customized -OPOLY game, then later sat quietly through an episode of House, asking questions intelligently about plot, character, science and verisimilitude. And then the moment bedtime is announced, I would have thought they'd reverted to preschool lamentations of thirst and headaches, lack of fatigue and desire for prolonged late night reading. I longed for the midday calm that had reigned while my son had played video games and my daughter had watched Food Network, occasionally exchanging pleasantries. At that time I had been able to put up a few new items in my Zazzle boutique and finish off a bit of translating without worry.

It's all to be expected, I know. I think that if I had more time with them, I'd worry less about the stressful moments. There's this Martha Stewart perfection I would love to see rule, but then I realize it's the messy moments that make family beautiful. In the end, even when they're aren't sleeping like cherubim, they are beautiful.


Suzeestamper said...

Hey son,

No matter what, hang on to your beautiful family thoughts; because, in the blink of an eye they'll be gone "tomorrow" and you'll wish you could have this "madness" all back.

Try to remembering... patience is a virtue.

Love always,
The other Mom

Bob Slentz-Kesler said...

Sorry, but I laughed as I read that. My daughters are 8 and 5, and they're already well on their way. Sometimes it's blissful peace and harmony, and other times they think they hate each other.