It's funny. You can think you're doing okay as a person--not great, lots of mistakes, but still okay--until something small that everybody can handle just totally throws you off your game.
The other night, my husband brought back BJ with a friend to sleep over. Now, I have actually been nagging for him to do this. BJ needs to spend time with friends. This friend's family always does stuff for us. The friend is often treated unfairly, and the friend's mother never gets a break. Plus, I had had a terrible feeling about the day, and the last time I had had a terrible feeling, we got into a car accident. So when they came back safely, I would have been game for almost anything. Or so I thought.
Anyone can handle sleepovers, especially a former teacher and daycare worker, right? I went to countless of them as a child. Really, they are no big deal. And it really seemed like it was going to be all right. For about 20 minutes.
Let me say right now that all the images I have of the radiant Mrs. McCauley, face fully made-up and long dark hair glossily cascading over her shoulder, smiling benevolently at 6 rambunctious girls at some ungodly hour of the morning and cheerfully offering us breakfast, have taken on new sainted status. I am not that woman.
"Let's play Wii!" shouts our guest, bouncing on the La-Z-Boy.
"Try our Harry Potter!" offer my boys, bouncing on the adjacent love seat.
"Can you fight?" asks our guest.
"Yes, sometimes," answers my older one.
"You can shoot with your stick!" adds my little one. "I'm going to be Hagrid."
"I'll play Harry," says my big one.
"You'll share with your guest," says Daddy.
After a little crying, my little one is established on the computer. The guest and my big one FINALLY have the controllers. Now, I don't know what changed during the ride to our house, but for some reason, these children, who use their own Wiis daily with no outside help, have suddenly lost the capacity to put the loop of the controllers around their wrists, attach the nunchuks, and choose the game disk.
"How do you DO this?" whines our guest.
"Mommy, this won't work," whines my big one.
"Mommy, no one will let me play," whines my little one from his computer game.
Approximately three and a half minutes later, we are chainging the game because it is "boring." Translation: my big one has more hearts than our guest. Five minutes later, my big one is running off to his room because he "accidentally" quit the game when our guest was attempting to achieve "match point" in table tennis. *Sigh* Life is hard when you're learning to share.
Eventually, we put in soccer because that is what our guest likes. This is actually not a bad thing. My boys need to learn about soccer because all the kids in one country of their heritage know about it. They don't have to like it; they just need to know enough to get by. So, soccer = good. But our guest cannot play soccer. Nor does he have the patience to learn it. Not that my children are any better. They don't want to learn soccer either--they just want to win it or quit, which is exactly what my big one does as he abandons the Wii and attempts to seize the mouse from his computer game-playing brother.
"Mo-om! AJ's not giving me a turn!" shouts my big one.
"Your brother didn't need to give you a turn. YOU were playing Wii and not giving HIM a turn. How could you play Wii and the computer at the same time anyway?"
This argument is unpersuasive. Whining resumes.
Meanwhile, our guest is complaining about the soccer uniforms, the soccer stadium, and the fact that my husband, who has agreed to play with him so that our guest can, in fact, actually play the game HE wanted, has unwittingly scored a goal and taken the lead.
After five hours of this repeated, my beleaguered husband goes to bed and leaves me with the three children. This is a great form of birth control. I have absolutely NO desire for another child at the moment. And, horrible demon that I am, I make them sit down on the floor with covers and choose a movie from Netflix. I am SO mean. I have been told.
When the movie is over at 11:30, I inform the poor browbeaten boys, none of whom is more than six-years-old, that it is bed time, that, yes, they must brush their teeth, and don't any of them dare think of not using the potty because our guest has not brought any extra clothing and there is only so much laundry I want to do.
Ten minutes later, they are lying in bed. AJ is crying because he wants to sleep with Mommy. BJ is bouncing and giggling, and our guest is whining that someone has touched him. The three boys are squeezed together in a single bed. Everyone is going to get touched. I try to explain this to our guest, who looks doubtful. I also try to convince my boys to TRY to give him a little extra space.
We say prayers, give kisses, and I trudge off to bed at some time after midnight. In whispers they think I can't hear, they say, "Just a minute. We can sneak anywhere when she's in her room."
I hear clunks. Giggles. Rustling. I decide that if I don't smell smoke or hear sirens, I am not going to investigate.
After about twenty minutes, things quiet down, and I hear little feet shuffling into my room. My little one is scared and climbs into our bed. My husband smiles as he snuggles down between the two of us.
I wander a few times during the night. All are sleeping peacefully.
I am awakened a few minutes before 7:00 by laser gun fire in the living room. At least it was almost 7:00.
Things do not improve in the morning. We are now more tired than we were yesterday, and our patience is waning. The little one is desperate to win anything, which is unlikely because he is the smallest, so every such attempt is punctuated with a full out temper tantrum in the middle of the floor. Our guest is rough housing and then complaining each time he is touched, something that incenses my children who generally never mention an injury unless they want me to staunch blood flow so that they can keep going.
We take a break to eat.
Ten minutes later, we are ready to wrestle again.
"Every time you fight, one of you ends up crying," I point out. "So if you're going to fight, you might as well decide right now who's going to cry."
My little one immediately volunteers, "Okay! This time BJ cries!"
So we went back to Wii. There was great whining. We have three boys and only two controllers. Sometimes we win. Sometimes we lose. Only certain games allow us to be the same character. Sometimes we don't understand the turn structure.
I threaten to turn off the whole thing if I hear a single complaint more. Our guest regards me fearfully.
A second later, my big one begins, "Awwww! It's his turn agai-ain!" Then, catching the look on my face, he quickly adds, "and that's why it's SO AWESOME, Mom!...We can keep the Wii on?"
So I went upstairs and hid in the bathroom for ten minutes. Like I said, millions of mothers have handled this, but at least this weekend, put me on the Nasty Mom List. I am not cut out for sleepovers.