I should’ve known better than to write two days ago about how well my son had taken to homeschooling. I should’ve known better than to assume I’d continue passing days so richly contented, so permeated with joy. I should’ve known there’d be days like this one.
But I’m damn glad I didn’t know it beforehand.
Today was bitter, starting too soon and ending too late. It was ferocious. I would’ve gladly traded a year of my life not to have had to live through today. But live through it I did, and I can only hope that tomorrow is not nearly as evil.
It started at 7:15 when my son woke up a full two hours earlier than any morning in the past three weeks. He wanted breakfast — now — and refused to wait the 10 minutes it takes me to use the restroom, brush my teeth and find my robe and slippers. In those brief moments, he’d managed to strew Apple Jacks and milk all over the counters, the floor and the inside of the refrigerator. Add in one puppy who also couldn’t wait 10 minutes to do her thing, and you can imagine the swamp of cereal, milk, shit and pee that greeted me when I finally shuffled into the kitchen.
Where I stubbed my toe on my son’s firetruck that he’d forgotten to put away last night.
And I found that we were out of coffee.
But both of these things occurred just as I stepped into a big pile of dog shit which, since I was hopping on one foot while trying to massage my painful stubbed toe, meant that I went skidding across the kitchen floor and landed on my ass. In dog shit. And Apple Jacks.
Two hours later (and, no, nobody died), I’d managed to mostly clean the kitchen floor… or at least had cleaned up anything resembling feces or urine. Then it was time to start our school day… or so I thought. My son, however, had other plans.
He didn’t want to read a story together. He didn’t want to read to me or have me read to him, either. He didn’t want to play with flashcards, play Word Bingo or even play Junior Scrabble. He didn’t want to bang on drums, play with Play Dough or paint. He didn’t want to do anything but watch Scooby Doo.
So I let him.
Then the phone rang. The company from which I rent server space was sold again, which means that all of VenomPages’s clients were down while the new DNS addresses propagated. So I got on the phone with the company just as the damn puppy decided to take yet another dump. This time her target was my purse, which meant the company’s customer service rep got the earful they so richly deserved for having pulled this crap without notice to me. I was mid-stream in an admirable string of profanity when the customer service wench explained they’d sent me an email warning me of the transfer… last week… when my computer was hosed and I was offline.
So I sit down to the computer to start restoring my clients’ site and that’s when the Big-Eyed Boy decided he was ready for school.
Now, I’m still new enough to this homeschooling thing that I figured it was better to take him up on his interest right then and there rather than risk alienating him by telling him that Mommy was busy. So I pulled out my notes on today’s science project — making rock candy to demonstrate crystallization, which jives nicely with our language lessons that currently feature the “hard-c” sound. (Get it: candy, cooking, crystal, crunch?)
We’re boiling water and stirring in sugar when a bird — yes, a freaking bird! — flew in the deck door that my cat had managed to push open. Hot sugary water flew all over the stovetop, all over my apron, and almost all over the Big-Eyed Boy but (thanks to the puppy peeing on my son’s firetruck which I’d only managed to kick across the kitchen this morning), the boy had moved out of the danger zone. Nobody was hurt. It was just another mess demanding to be cleaned.
Not that I had time, mind you. I’d just pulled out the 409 and paper towels when the doorbell rang. The DHL delivery dude needed my signature for the three boxes of miscellaneous school supplies I’d ordered two weeks ago. I’d just finished signing that weird electronic tablet thing the use when the puppy — followed by the cat — race out the door and onto the street. Naturally, I raced after them and the DHL dude was kind enough to race after me to provide help. Of course, my son also raced after the two of us, so while I’m hollering at him to get out of the street I’m also managing to scare the crap out of the puppy and cat. I have to say, that DHL dude is fast, because he managed to scoop up both animals and get them back in my front door before my son actually understood what I meant when I shouted: “Get back in the driveway, now!”
By the time we returned to the sugar-encrusted kitchen, ants had already found the mess and called their buddies in for a feast. I probably wouldn’t have minded nearly as much if they were cleaning up the Apple Jacks as well as the dog’s shit and pee that I’d somehow missed under the kitchen table, but they weren’t at all interested in those mundane things. I guess they figure there will be more of those available tomorrow, and they’re probably right.
At that point it was 10:30 a.m. and I was ready to call it a day. I put the puppy in its kennel, locked the cat in my office and bribed my son with his leftover birthday cake while I finished cleaning the kitchen then took a hot shower. Once I was clean again (and realized it was far too early to start drinking martinis), I figured the only way we were all likely to live through the day was by getting out of the house.
So off to Wal-Mart we went. After all, I needed a new purse.
This was our first trip to a public place during standard school hours, a potentially awkward situation that I’d read plenty of warnings about. Had I not been so frazzled already I might’ve noticed if we got any strange looks or passed by any old ladies whispering about truancy and bad examples. As it was, I could only focus on finding a purse that was cheap without looking so.
With that mission accomplished, we still had another 6 hours to fill before 5 o’clock — the Golden Hour when Hubby comes home and takes over parenting duties. So we went to the library, we went to the playground, we went to the grocery store and we went out to lunch. Then it was noon.
Dear God, how could it have only been noon?!!
Feeling sorry for the puppy in its kennel — as well as myself — we returned home to confirm that little leprechauns and house elves do not, in fact, exist. The house was still a mess, as was the puppy who’d managed to roll around in her own poop and emerged from her kennel dripping pee from her ears.
I was hosing off the dog in the backyard when my son strayed too close. I couldn’t resist. I sprayed him head to toe with the hose and he laughed. He laughed! It was the first laugh of the day for either of us, and it was infectious. I sprayed him some more, then I let him capture the hose from me so he could soak me down, too. This went on for at least a half-hour, with the puppy barking happily and dashing between our feet, when we decided that what we really needed was water balloons.
The lady at Dillon’s did her best not to bat an eye when my son and I — our hair still wet, although we’d at least managed to change into dry clothes — tossed six bags of water balloons on the counter. Finally, as she handed over my receipt, she mustered the courage to ask whether it was a school holiday or something.
“Every day is a holiday,” my son replied. “We homeschool!”
She told him that he’s a very lucky boy to be able to go to school at home with his mommy, then wished us well as we left. As for me, I bit my tongue.
If this is a holiday, I hate to think what’s in store for tomorrow.