Mr. Snowman Blows a Fuse
This morning, my husband delivered the donuts, then went to the church for a pre-marital counseling appointment. I decided--what in the world was I thinking??--to sort through the storage room (10 x 10 feet of stuff) to find cast-offs I could donate to the church rummage sale, which takes place in two weeks.
Anyone with children understands the freakish nature of clutter. You have a child--or twins--and then suddenly, your garage is full of carseats and booster seats and outgrown toys and boxes of baby clothes and random wire hangers and ten thousand boxes of junk you can't quite figure out how to handle. Not to mention four years' worth of Martha Stewart "Living" magazines.
My parents saved everything--which explains why my mom has a stash of about ten boxes of worthless junk in my storage room. She lived with us for almost two years and left a trail of her belongings when she went. When my dad died, I held the Mother of All Garage Sales to get rid of the accumulated jetsam and flotsam of his forty-seven years of life. He was a ham radio operator and a computer fanatic from way back in 1977, when he built a computer from a kit. In those days, he actually programmed the thing using cassette tapes. He died before The Internet became what it is today, which is unjust. He would have loved The Internet more than anyone alive. He'd just been accepted into a program to study writing technical manuals at the University of Washington. Anyway. Apparently, I have become sidetracked.
Junk, clutter, stuff. It's everywhere now that we have kids. This is particularly troubling to my husband because his idea of perfect interior design is a dorm room. And not a fancy-schmancy dorm room with a built-in loft. No. He'd love nothing more than to live in a room with bookshelves, a bed, a refrigerator (for his beloved Dr. Pepper and rootbeer popsicles) and a television. All this other stuff--the stuff that keeps us afloat, like winter coats and toys for the children and a bike rack for the car we keep just because some day we might actually take the bicycles somewhere and ride them, the mostly used buckets of interior paint--all this he considers worthless junk. He wants to live in austere simplicity.
But we have kids. And we have kids' stuff. And we have a house. And Christmas decorations.
I do my best to weed through the excess now and then. This is the first time we've actually lived in a house longer than four years, so I haven't had the built-in pressure to throw dead weight overboard so we can sail to another port. This time, I just have to fling open the closets and toss stuff into black garbage bags and ditch it before the kids notice.
Which brings me back to the storage room. I thought Babygirl might be distracted enough and cheerful enough that I might accomplish sorting through at least the surface layer of debris in that room. I started--and handed her a bin of Fisher-Price Little People, the old kind that are choking hazards. She busied herself and I plowed forward, throwing stuff into a bag. Then she returned the bin to me and I found a play-toolbox for her to look at. That bought me another few minutes.
Then she saw Mr. Snowman.
Mr. Snowman is a plastic Christmas decoration that stands about four feet high. It plugs in. I figured she wouldn't remember about the plug since she hadn't seen Mr. Snowman since Christmas-time. She wanted him, so I carried him to the family room and plunked him on the floor, plug-side in, out of sight.
Next thing I know, TwinBoyA has plugged him in. Babygirl is thrilled and I peek in to see her hugging Mr. Snowman. I hurry back to the storage room, sort through eight-hundred Play-doh related toys, then hear shouting. Mr. Snowman is broken.
YoungestBoy has been smacking Mr. Snowman with a pillow. I told him to stop once, but he ignored me and now Mr. Snowman no longer lights up. This is a crisis for Babygirl, and how do I handle it, being the mature mother of four that I am?
That's right. I yell. I yell things like, "Why can't you just listen to me? Why did you have to plug in the snowman? Babygirl didn't even know it would light up! Arg! Why didn't you stop hitting it? Arg! I can't get anything done around here! Arg!" (Yes, I say "arg" just like a pirate.)
Okay, fine. I call Babygirl into the storage room. She notices a package of markers--extra school supplies from last year. I have a serious addiction to school supplies and always over-buy. I say, "You already have some of those. Here, how about this?"
She will not be deterred. She wants those markers. My frustration level has reached orange now. Is that the higher level where you should look out for terrorists? That's the level I mean.
I say, "FINE" and swoop her up, stomp into the kitchen, plop her into her high-chair, realize I can't find paper, rip off some freezer-paper for her to use, tape it to the high-chair tray, open the drawer to get a bib so she doesn't write all over herself and--HEY! The entire drawer front comes off in my hands.
Now I am really mad. I wonder for a second if I could be suffering from my week of PMS already. No, not possible. I am just angry because I can't get any task finished. Babygirl is crying and rejects the marker after all that.
I take her out of her seat, comfort her and sit down with pliers and a hammer and Liquid Nails to repair the stupid drawer. This is the second drawer to break in my kitchen. I fix it, then retrieve the other broken drawer from the storage room and fix it, too. By the time I finish, I am calmer. I return to the storage room. Babygirl fixates on Mr. Snowman again.
So, I get a screwdriver and replace the bulb in Mr. Snowman. It still doesn't work. I investigate further and conclude that Mr. Snowman has blown a fuse. As I am doing this, the boys are in the next room goofing off. I tell them to be quiet, to stop, to STOP! Moments later, YoungestBoy is crying because TwinBoyA did not stop and now he's hit YoungestBoy in the eye with a stuffed Barney--the purple dinosaur.
Alert! Alert! I'm immediately back at Orange Level, yelling stuff that sounded to my kids like "Wahnk-wahnk-wahnk-wahnk-wahnk-wahnk" just like in a Charlier Brown special. I should be carried off to solitary confinement and have my vocal cords severed. I have blown a fuse of my own.
I give up. I fix lunch for the younger kids and the older kids make themselves something. By the time my husband returns home, I am normal, no longer frothing at the mouth and convulsing, but my kids gleefully tell him, "Mom is having a bad day." I feel like I'm going to be sent to the Principal's Office at any second.
That's what I get for attempting to accomplish anything.
I managed to fill my trunk with donations for the garage sale. After I put Babygirl to bed, I delivered the bags to the church basement, then went to Target to buy more school supplies. My addiction to spiral notebooks (10 for $1.00) needs professional attention. When I returned home, we went to the pool where we met my mother and my neice and nephew. We swam until we were water-logged.
The warning level has returned to purple, or wherever it is that all you have to be concerned about is someone giving you a dirty look. Tomorrow morning, leftover donuts and then we head to church, where hopefully I can be redeemed.