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Scare Tactics

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I came home from a recent girls’ trip vacation to a house that looked like some dude named Fisher Price used it to recover from a stomach virus. Toys covered every single surface. Every single surface! I couldn’t even blame Hubs—to be honest, it didn’t really look all that different from certain days when I’m “on deadline.” Still. Me? Clean up toys? Mop floors? Scrape viscous goo from the kitchen sink drain? I’m too cool for that!

Not.

Besides easing myself back into the old “clean routine,” I’ve also returned to taking care of the kids. My girls are all pretty easy, but baby Bruiser is another story. Half the time, I want to hug him and play many, many rounds of the Nom Nom Game, the one where we try to gum each others’ faces off. The other half, I want to run and hide from him and the incredible mess he manages to make everywhere he goes. Or yell, because he’s scratched me yet again with his demon nails or pulled my hair so hard that I’m convinced I’ve been freaking scalped.

“Mmmmmgggggah!” I said yesterday after Bruiser drove me crazy for about the fiftieth time in an hour-long period by grabbing a glass of juice off the table, throwing it on the floor, and then lying in it on his freshly-shirted belly. I needed to let out some angst, but what to say? What to say?

“I just want to …” I said to Hubs, pausing for a moment. What did I want to do exactly? Slap him? Hell no. I wouldn’t even joke about that. Sell him to the gypsies? Forget it. Didn’t want to tempt fate. Feed him to the sharks? Horrors.

“I just want to … to … put him in temporary housing!” I finished weakly.

Temporary housing? That was the best I could do? Temporary housing. That’s like, the lamest insult ever, not to mention a horrible sign of the kind of parent I’m apparently destined to become. Is temporary housing seriously going to become the scare tactic I use with my kids?

“Y’all stop fighting or I’ll put you in temporary housing!” I imagined myself saying. “It’ll be like a hotel that’s been turned into a dorm! You’ll have to share a bathroom with strangers! With! Strangers!”

The kids will cry and plead with me. “Don’t send us to temporary housing!” they’ll beg, hugging my knees. “Not temporary housing, Mommy! Please!”

I’ll remain unmoved. “You’ll have to put a hold on your mail!” I’ll threaten. “Or get a PO Box! And you’ll have a really hard time establishing credit! So watch yourselves!” That’ll make them shape right up, I’m sure. Temporary housing.

Is it too early for a martini?

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