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     Summer is officially halfway over. Whereas this news brings a stab of pain to my summer-loving heart, I have chosen to see the silver lining. For many of you out there, you know what that lining is. (Hint, it's NOT football games, gorgeous fall leaves, nor apple cider.) For any honest mothers out there, we can all agree that the silver lining is that the little people living in our homes will soon be OUT of our homes for a blessed 7-8 hours a day, 5 days a week! (And yes, I am calling you dishonest if this news doesn't spark at least a small amount of glee in your soul.)
     Now, don't get me wrong here.... summer hasn't been bad. In fact, it's been pretty awesome. Since I've had the amazing opportunity to be a temporary stay-at-home mom for the first time since we adopted the older two kiddos, I've been able to get to know them in ways that wouldn't have been possible had I still been working 12-hour shifts. And I really wanted this time to learn about who they are, what makes them tick.... and to help them grow in each area of their lives. So we've done devotions, sang, exercised, crafted, cooked, had play dates, swim lessons, library programs, gymnastics, and we've even done homework daily in order to keep the smarts up while on hiatus from school. So far, I've been pleasantly surprised with how well things have gone. Obviously, we've had the occasional "I need you to get AWAY FROM ME" days, and even the "Your life DEPENDS on you staying in your room" day or two. But all in all, we've had relationship success and I can honestly say that, for the first time, I actually feel close to Cameron and Taylor.
     And then there was today.
     It's not like anyone burned down the house. No one killed a neighborhood pet or even tantrumed for that matter. We (yes, WE) were all just tired.... tired of being together, tired of muggy, rainy summer days keeping us indoors, tired of trying to get along. I found their special "quirks" particularly annoying today, and they found my quiet grumbles rather frustrating. It was just a day.... if I heard a scream, I didn't care to who caused it this time, nor was I interested in doling out a consequence. When one tattled on the other one for the millionth time, I decided that it probably wasn't worth my energy to respond and simply walked away. Afterall, how many times in one day is a person expected to break up fights or repeat the same exact thing? They may be deaf, they may be dumb, but either way, this Mama was just tired of repeating herself.
     Sadly, not only were my children's memories failing to remember what I had said to them just 5 minutes prior, but their memories obviously decided that all the homework, flashcards, and learning we'd done for the past 6 weeks was just clogging up their mental freeways and that it was best to toss all that junk out to make room for more important things like thumb-twiddling and nose-picking. I realized this when we decided to do our homework lesson in the car today. I kid you not, this is how my car ride went:

Me: Remember to listen up because if you don't know the answer to your question, your sibling can try to get the point. Okay, Cam, what is the number ahead of 62? (My kids struggle with their numbers and have to start over counting from 1 whenever they're asked what comes next in a sequence... hence this learning lesson.)
Cam: Um....(wicked long pause)....63?
Me: Yes. Good. Taylor, what is one number ahead of 15?
Tay: 16?
Me: Very good. Cam, what is one number BEHIND 35?
Cam: (counting in his head)
Me: Cam, stop counting, think about what number comes before the number 5.
Cam: 8?
Me: Nope, not 8. What number comes right before number 5?
Cam: (counting again) 4?
Me: Yep, so what comes right before 35?
Cam: 72?
Me: (Wow...that's...not even kinda close.) No, Bud, if 4 comes right before 5, and we're in the 30s, the answer would be thirty-......?
Cam: 38?
Tay: I know! Is it 34?
Me: Yes, Tay, it's 34. Do you get it, Cam?
Cam: Huh?
Me: Cam, do you see how we got the answer 34?
Cam: 34 what?
Me: (Really?) Really?
Cam: Really what, Mom?
Me: (big sigh) Taylor, what number comes AFTER 99?
Tay: Hmmmm.... that's hard because I can't count to 100 yet.
Me: Tay, you just said the answer.
Tay: Is it 99??
Me: No, what comes AFTER 99?
Tay: (thinkin.....) Is it 99?
Me: Taylor, the answer isn't 99, the question is what comes AFTER 99?
Tay: (staring blankly)
Me: Remember when you count by 10s....
Tay: (excitedly interrupting) 10, 20, 30, 40, 50, 60, 70, 80, 90, 100!
Me: YES! Exactly, so if you are looking for the next number after 99, it would be....?
Tay: (nothing....just....nothing)
Me: Tay?
Tay: 99?
Me: (Oh. My. Gosh.) It's NOT 99, I promise. The number AFTER 99 simply CANNOT also be 99. If you were counting in the 90s, it would go 91, 92, 93, 94, 95, 96, 97, 98, 99.....?
Tay: Well, it's not 99.....
Me: (Dear Jesus, please help me not to crash this van.... we have an innocent baby on board.) Cam! Wanna come in for the steal, Man? What comes after 99?
Cam: Huh?
Me: What. Comes. After. 99?
Tay: (whispers loudly to Cameron) It's not 99!
Cam: Duh, it's 100, Taylor!
Me: Good! Here's an easy one, Cam. If 100 comes AFTER 99, what comes BEFORE 100?
Cam: (Silence)
Me: CAM....
Cam: (Nothin')
Me: CAMERON!!!
Cam: Huh?
Me: Answer the question, Dude!
Cam: I wasn't listening.....
Me: What comes BEFORE 100?
Cam: Um.... well..... 24?
Me: Cameron, you just told me that the number that comes AFTER 99 is 100.... so the number that comes BEFORE 100 has to be....
Cam: Well, it's probably 23 then.
Me: Actually, it's probably not even close to 23. Taylor, it's all you and you GOT this one, Girl! What number comes BEFORE 100?
Tay: Well, it's NOT 99.....
Me: (turns up music loudly)
     And we're done. We've only been doing the same exercise for the last 6 weeks and all... it's not like numbers are important though. We just won't use them and that's that. Problem solved! And it won't matter if I give them the answer, because with how today has been going, they will just stare at me blankly and then proceed to tell me that they have no idea what I just said. They must be surrounded by an invisible sound-proof force field made of cotton and that weird foamy ear plug material. But because I've lost my mind, I decided that National Children Must Be Deaf Day was a good day to do a cooking project called Build Your Own Pizza. So we worked together (trying to be patient) and mixed up the dough. We then spread it out onto our own personal pizza spaces and began spreading the sauce.

Me: Now, carefully smooth the sauce around on the dough and try to keep it from getting onto the pan.
Tay: (Takes a heaping spoonful and smears it across the pan.)
Me: Yeah, great job, Tay.... way to listen.
Tay: What? You said to make sure to get it all over the pan!
Cam: Nah uh, she said to NOT get it on the pan, Taylor!
Tay: CAMERON! SHUT UP!!
Me: HEY! Knock it off or leave the kitchen. I said to try to NOT get it on the pan, Taylor. It's just going to be burnt sauce now.
Tay: Well, I didn't hear you.
Me: You haven't heard me all day. LISTEN. Ok, guys, now sprinkle your cheese around your pizza and try to NOT get it on the pan.
Tay: OKAY. (said pointedly)
Me: Good job. Now put on your peppers and onions. Maybe even make a cool pattern with them for something fun.
Tay: Where's the cheese?
Me: (looking at her questioningly) The cheese? The stuff under your peppers and onions?
Tay: No, Mom, the cheese.
Me: Yes, Tay, the cheese is under your peppers and onions.
Tay: No! THE CHEEEEEESE!!!
Me: For the love of all that his holy, what are you TALKING about, child?!?
Tay: Ugh, you never listen!
Me: (REALLY??? Hello, Kettle, meet Pot.) I hear you saying you want the cheese, Taylor, and I'm telling you the cheese is on your pizza... I'm not sure what else to say about this....
Tay: (HUGE sigh) Cameron, tell Mom I want the cheese!
Cam: Mom, she wants the cheese.
Me: (staring blankly at both of them) Someone... just please.... oh my gosh.... I just can't....
Tay: NEVERMIND. I just wanted the kind you sprinkle!
Me: Oh, the parmesan cheese?
Tay: YES!!
Me: You mean the stuff sitting directly in front of you??
Tay: yes.....
Me: Well at least we know that basically NONE of your senses are working and it's not just your ears.
     Fifty more days, folks..... Fifty. More. Days.

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