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Trying Something New

Over the past year, our dinner routine (or lack thereof, maybe), has degenerated to such a level of mayhem that we can no longer even attempt to answer the phone or operate any noise-making electronics that would normally be used for entertainment purposes during dinner preparation. Yes, this has been our solution. If we just pretend that truck-horn volume telephone ring isn't piercing the thick cloud of tension and chaos FOUR, FIVE, SIX times in a row because Hannah's friends refuse to leave messages on the answering machine and opt to call back ad infinitum, we'll be able to concentrate more of our harried attention onto the kids and our oh-so-complicated meal preparation, usually involving one of two things: opening steamy plastic, noodle-filled packages from the local Thai place or throwing some frozen veggie burgers onto the skillet. If we refuse to turn on the television or radio and talk in soft voices between all of the hypocritically loud shrieks of STOP RUNNING! and I TOLD YOU IF YOU FOUGHT OVER THAT TOY I WAS GOING TO THROW IT AWAY, NOW BRING IT TO ME, HEY! COME BACK HERE! then maybe our sheer desire and need for the kids to be in our presence without demanding, directly or indirectly, that we stop what we're doing every three seconds to deal with their wild behavior will just seep right out of our migraine-ridden heads and into theirs. I imagine this transition to happen instantly, but in slow motion, where John and I are in the kitchen with wild, desperate eyes and clenched jaws, the kids are in the living room throwing things at each other and jumping from one piece of furniture to another, and then suddenly the earth stops spinning long enough for all of the intentions John and I have for dinner to be even mildly peaceful and enjoyable to drip like molasses from our now-relaxed heads, down our still statue arms until it combines into one blob-form and seeps over to the kids and up through their feet, which will be frozen in the air since they are always, always at least an inch or two off the ground. Then, after that gradual moment is over and the earth spins again, the kids land with a soft, quiet thud, John and I stir sauce and gather plates for the table, and the kids find a book or ask if they can put out the butter.

These are my fantasies. Such is my life. Other people fantasize about winning the lottery or meeting someone famous; I fantasize about getting through dinner without ever once wanting to yank my hair out by the roots or sell my children on the black market.

Since we've never ONCE achieved even one single part of that goal with our current pretend-we're-peaceful-and-maybe-we'll-become-peaceful tactics, we finally decided to try something new this week, something more practical. For one thing, because John is home with the kids during the afternoon, he had been attempting to start dinner before I got home. Of course, because of the late afternoon boredom / fatigue / mischief that sets in with our kids around 4:00 p.m. every day, by the time I would get home at 5:30, he'd already be in the throes of dealing with some completely ridiculous behavior, and dinner would still be a long way off. Or worse, he'd call me on my way home with a desperate Mayday! sound in his voice, and I'd end up picking dinner up on my way - it would be THAT BAD at home. We both had it stuck in our heads for months that it "just made sense" for him to start dinner. Clearly that was wrong, because hello! Dinnertime at our house: not making sense!

Now John keeps the kids occupied until I get home, and I start dinner while Bryce sits at the kitchen table and does his 15 minutes of homework or tells me about his day. Quinn usually wanders around, still slightly wild, but much more tolerable than what we were seeing before, since Bryce is occupied and not feeding off of Quinn's delirium. John will come in and out, here helping with dinner, there taking the kids outside to throw a ball or distract them from the idea that they need to destroy the inside of the house, specifically the kitchen and dining room, at that exact moment.

Not exactly molasses-dripping peaceful, but we're approaching sanity. (For now.)

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