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He went to the dentist for the first time ever and was a model patient. He was quiet and obedient and his only move in the chair was reaching for my hand to hold it while the hygienist cleaned his teeth with the chocolate toothpaste he kept trying to eat. He was rewarded with a Spider-Man sticker (to go on his Spider-Man t-shirt) and a Green Lantern ring.
Then we went to the shoe store and he picked out Batman sneakers because he’s been longing for superhero shoes. He also got Avengers crocs (do you sense a theme?). He was perfectly behaved.
We went home so I could eat a late lunch and he played Legos until we went to the playground he requested. He had a fabulous time and climbed up every ladder and slid down every slide again and again.
Then we took Zoe to martial arts class and he was relatively content, coloring and chatting until class was over and he seized the opportunity to grab a light saber (a piece of foam pool noodle they use to practice defensive moves with) and run in circles brandishing it, which is a fully sanctioned activity once classes have ended.
Until suddenly he wasn’t fine at all, and all the other kids except mine had gone home and he didn’t want to relinquish his weapon and he didn’t want to leave and the tantrum began and I had to gather our things and scoop him up and walk to the car, hoping he wouldn’t escape from my grasp in the parking lot and hurl himself onto the asphalt. I had to leave my water bottle and his sippy cup on the ledge outside the studio because I needed to secure my grip on him and I hoped Zoe would see them there as she followed us to the car and bring them. She did.
I forced him into his car seat while he screamed and I flung his Batman shoes into the back of the car. Not the most mature thing to do, but it kept me from futilely screaming back at him.
All the way home he screamed and yelled, shouting ow ow ow as if he were being tortured. I turned the music up to an uncomfortably loud volume to drown him out.
At home I let Zoe out to go inside and Zeke and I sat in the parked car in front of our house while he screamed. I could tell he was getting hoarse and losing steam. Abruptly, he stopped crying and said, “I’m calm now.”
And he was, briefly, until we went insid and discussed bathing. And then he wasn’t, but he did settle down to happily eat dinner and eventually consented to the bath after a brief standoff that was at least quiet. And after the bath I held him and rocked him until it was past time for him to put on his diaper and pajamas. Another fight commenced and after I struggled to diaper him, he took off the diaper and stood there defiantly and said he didn’t like it. I explained that once he started using the potty all the time and wearing underwear he could wear it to bed and not have to wear a diaper. “Oh!” He said, as if this were a perfectly reasonable revelation. Then I said, “let’s wear underwear to school tomorrow,” and he said, “nope!” But I pressed on. “You can wear your Green Lantern underwear!” He agreed. Who knows what his thinking will be about underwear in the morning.
Unsurprisingly I fell asleep while putting him to bed and after I woke up all I could do was stumble into our bedroom and fall into our bed, unable to venture downstairs and face the dishes or read a book or talk with my husband, all of which I had been planning to do. I fell asleep wearing my glasses, without brushing my teeth or taking my pills. And then I woke up to the sound of Zoe moaning in her sleep. Fortunately she had quieted by the time I used the bathroom and retrieved a glass of water. And now I am awake, listening to Randy breathe beside me and waiting for Zeke to wander in and climb up into our bed, which is what often happens at this time of night.
And here he is.
And then there are the nights when you wake up to your husband poking your foot with his foot and he’s whispering across your sprawled and sleeping son that it’s six in the morning and you panic slightly because you fell asleep at 8:30 putting your son to bed despite your efforts to stay awake. (It’s actually not quite midnight. He has a storied history of announcing the wrong time in his sleep).
Not that falling asleep putting your son to bed is all that rare, but it’s more disorienting than usual when you’re in your sister’s guest bedroom because, for the second night in a row, you can’t sleep at your house because many of your belongings are stacked up in your kitchen because a company was supposed to come install new floors in your family room and dining room and upstairs hallway and downstairs bathroom on Tuesday but failed to do so because allegedly the truck carrying your flooring materials and its driver went rogue and disappeared into thin air. Fortunately the carpet installer from the same company did manage to show up, although he came alone despite the vast quantity of massive furniture to be moved out of the way in your three bedrooms. Somehow he did it by himself and he worked his tush off for nine hours to get it all done and is beautiful so you gave him a big tip. Do you even tip carpet installers?
So even though the bedrooms are carpeted you can’t sleep at home because the upstairs bathrooms are filled with objects that were in the bedrooms or in the hall and the hall floor still needs to be replaced and they’re going to have to shove those bookshelves and cubbies and your daughter’s camp trunk that hangs out there into the bedrooms so you can’t really reassemble the bedrooms yet. And your lovely new closet is overflowing with books and assorted items that were sitting onto it husbsnd’s nightstand or collecting dust under the bed and you cannot reach the clothes hanging toward the back which you need to wear for work without knocking over some of the carefully assembled piles. And when you are trying to pack overnight bags for your kids you have to hunt room by room for the trash bag of their hats and gloves because it’s supposed to snow tomorrow and when you were packing up for the floor installation it was 70 degrees so you didn’t think ahead to keep tabs on the winter accessories.
All this floor business is because of the water damage that happened now three months ago but it’s taken you a long time to solve this particular part of the problem because you knew it would be a huge hassle and low and behold it’s been a humungous hassle (approximately 10 times more aggravating than a huge hassle) but still, you know, first world problems.
Much like the first world problem of losing your iPhone in a thunderstorm and searching for it and your husband searching for it and your daughter’s martial arts teacher searching for it and becoming convinced it washed away into the sewer and going to buy a new one two days later (in a process that takes nearly two hours in part because of a belligerent and intoxicated customer who is trying his best to attract the attention of all the store employees and apparently had come in daily to do so until they threatened to call the police and he exited quickly saying, “I’m a Black man! I don’t want the police!). And then someone finds your phone and it is returned to you and seems to be working fine and you gave to figure out how to get some money back for it since you’re now paying for two phones. Again, the very nature of a first world problem.
Now it is dark and quiet and your sister and brother-in-law and nephew and husband and so and daughter are all sound asleep but you are not since you fell asleep at 8:30 and there are just a few things on your mind.