Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Parental Practice?

Today I got to enjoy my afternoon with not one screaming child, but two. We picked up Teenybop from school, and she was so thrilled that we'd be picking up The Prince (Fiance's little brother who's somewhere around ten years old) from school. She was excited enough to be picking him up that she didn't mind the hour-long wait in the parent pick-up car line.

Me? To be truly honest, I dreaded picking him up. I dreaded spending the day with him in our tiny little apartment that is filled mostly with good memories of just Fiance, Teenybop, and me. (I know, "and I". What can I say, I'm a rebel!)

But don't get me wrong. It's not that I don't like little boys, because I do. They are so very different from girls, and as I am an avid people watcher, I like to contrast and compare the two sexes. And it's not that I don't like The Prince, per se. It's just that when it comes to him hanging out with Teenybop, he tends to be a little anal impatient irritable strong-willed about certain things like the fact that she can't play with any of his toys and if she does anything at all besides sit quietly on the couch alone, he freaks out and yells at her. And she's little, so she wants to be everywhere that he is, doing whatever he's doing, or at least watching ... from THISCLOSE! So he gets annoyed, and sometimes it's her own fault and it's understandable, but he's also quite reactive, so playtimes between the two of them sometimes go terribly awry. And wanting to be the good little Future-Daughter-In-Law, I didn't want that to happen at my house while I was in charge.

And mostly, today it didn't. They ran through the apartment, they played, it was nice. Toward the end of the day when The Prince was getting bored, he seemed a little down and I think he was a bit homesick for his mom. He had to have been at least a little hungry after all that playing, but he could barely eat for wishing his mom was there. You see, it's rare that he eats dinner away from home, and his mother is one of those very affectionate moms who keeps her kids under her wing for as long as possible. He bolted like a rifle shot when released from the duty of eating with us. I reassured him that if he'd rather, he could just wait and eat with his mom later.

So with being a little tired and a little homesick, he got a little irritable toward the end of the day and had be reminded here and there to be polite, but overall, the day was a hit. Both kids had a good time, and when The Prince's mother came for him, he pretty much had to be pulled out the door.

It was nice, even.

There still remains tomorrow and Thursday to be survived, but I think it will be okay. I'm trying to think of things to do with the two of them to keep them having fun so they don't fight, but it also got me thinking.

This is my future.

If Fiance and I should have another child ... Teenybop is four right now, so even if I were to become pregnant today (and no Jess, I'm not blessed with that at the moment, sorry to dash your hopes), someday I'd be dealing with a four year old and a nine year old living together under the same roof all the time. Now obviously I have a very different parenting style from my future mother-in-law, but each child is different, and surely my two would be like night and day. What then would that be like?

Today I got up, still tired and feeling unrested. I pressed on, got dressed and got Teenybop ready for school. At 8 I was leaving the school having dropped her off, and was headed home to breakfast and hang out with Fiance. By 11:45 I was at the school to retrieve her (because that's when Head Start lets out in Knoxville, TN, USA), and head home for a very long round of "mom-is-it-time-to-go-get-The-Prince-yet?" At quarter to two, we left to get him from school, and we sat in the above mentioned LONG car line. By three he was in the car and we were headed back to our apartment with a rousing rendition of "are-we-there-yet-how-'bout-now-how-'bout-now-how-much-longer-are-we-there-yet??"

They commenced with the shouting and running and playing as soon as we walked in the door, Teenybop forgetting to remove her shoes until I reminded her, and The Prince finally noticing an hour later that he still had his backpack on ...

"Hey, why do I still have my backpack on?"

By four I realized that I was late in my dinner prep (the chicken was done, nothing else was started, and Fiance had to leave for work at 4:45), so the rest of that hour was a breeze of trying to "speed-cook" (yes, it can be done, I am THE MASTER) and watching poor Fiance try to cram it in quick to get out the door on time. He did make it out the door, and the five o'clock hour saw The Prince sitting alone in the kitchen with his homework while I helped Teenybop not drown herself in the bathtub.

Around 6:30, future-mother-in-law arrived, and there was a bit of chat, but mostly she was quick to thank me for sitting The Prince so that she could get home and put the dog out before he ended up sitting at home in a very different and unsanitary way.

Once that was done, Teenybop hit the sack and I hit the kitchen, trying to tidy up the disaster that my work area had become in the midst of the frenzy.

By now she's out, it's 8:30 and I'm beat, but here I sit. What will I do when someday it is my job to deal fully with both of them? TWO baths, TWO sets of homework to look over and approve, TWO rooms to try to clean before the day is out, TWO children to dress and get to school on time?

I'm pretty sure that when that day comes, I will NOT be still sitting here at 8:30. Then again, for some reason I think I may have caught some of their energy, because other than a wretched backache, I'm not all that sleepy, though I am tired ...