Thursday, February 12, 2015

Seventeen Days: The Winter Break Diaries

I was just looking at my calendar and I realized that there is a faculty workday scheduled at my daughter, Iris’s, school on Friday.  And it’s Presidents Day weekend.  Yeah.  Let that sink in a little.  Uh huh, that means Iris, has a four-day weekend this weekend. 

Four days.  Four whole days.

For those of you who are parents of young children, your whole body just tensed like when the scary music starts playing in a horror film, didn’t it?  And you just checked your calendar because you were a little worried that you, too, might be faced with a four day weekend, right?  Yeah, you guys know.

For those of you who aren’t parents of young children, let me explain.

I love Iris.  I love her with all my heart and beyond all reason.  I actually enjoy spending time with her and talking with her.  Just, maybe, not all twenty-four hours of the day. 

You see, Iris has no siblings.  So, four days off school means four whole days where I am the entertainment.  And I can’t tell her to “go play with your sister.”  Because she doesn’t have a sister.  Four days off school means I am the one who has to either play every game ever created for or made up by a preschool-aged child, or I have to plan enough fun activities to exhaust the average decathlete, or I will be punished by having to listen to Iris recount exactly how bored she is (spoiler alert: bored enough to whine a lot, but not bored enough to clean her room, make her bed, or learn to read). 

The hell of it is, even if I play every game and exhaust the decathlete, it will not be enough.  It will only last half the day.  And Iris hasn’t taken an afternoon nap since she was three. 

I miss the nap.  I really miss the nap.

Honestly, I am not up to this.  I haven’t even fully recovered from Winter Break, yet.  I’m still experiencing flashbacks and I get the shakes every time I even look at Candyland.

When I was young, I loved winter break.  Looooooooved it.  I mean, seriously, a bunch of time off school in the middle of which people give you a crap-ton of presents?  What kid WOULDN’T love that?  Back then, I did not keep a diary.  But, if I HAD, my winter break diary would have probably looked like this:


Back then, I did not know that winter break was not really a thing for parents.  Back then, I did not realize that my parents were still having to do all the things they usually had to do while they were coming up with things for me to do because I was soooo boooored.  Back then, I did not know that there is a reason that Winter Break and Water Boarding have the same initials.

The winter break diary I would have kept this last winter break?  Would look like this:


DAY ONE:



I can handle this, right?  It’s only, what, seventeen days? 



Crap.  Really?  Seventeen?  Are there really SEVENTEEN days before school starts again?  That has to be wrong.  It can’t be that long. 



It is?  Seriously?  Oh, God.



Okay.  I can do this.  I just need a plan.  A plan and lots of playdates.  That’s all.  It’ll be fine.  I enjoy spending time with Iris.  She’s great.  And I can play with her.  And read to her.  And we’ll snuggle up and watch movies.  It’ll be fun.  Right? 



Right?



DAY TWO:



I did not know it was even possible to play Candyland that many times without dying from acute monotony.  And the box says “fun for the whole family.”  Really?  Which whole family?  I have a law degree!  I used to do criminal jury trials.  For a living.  I WON A MURDER CASE!   Now I am spending my day worrying about whether I’m going to get stuck in the Molasses Swamp?  This cannot be my life.



DAY FOUR:



We had a playdate.  A PLAYDATE!!!!  Do you know how hard it is to arrange a playdate over the holidays?  Everyone is travelling, or preparing for the holidays, or spending time with family, or singing carols for patients at a nursing home while simultaneously cooking all the food for Christmas dinner for a homeless shelter.  But I did it!  I secured a playdate for Iris.  Two days before Christmas, I wrangled a playdate out of thin air.  So, for something like three hours, Iris had someone to play with!!!!  And it wasn’t me!!!  And we were at someone else’s house so I didn’t even have to clean up!!!!  My sanity is saved!!!!!



DAY FIVE:



Who thought putting Christmas in the middle of Winter Break was a good idea?  Because Iris is Stir Crazy + Santa's Coming Tonight = I really wish I had, at some point, acquired the taste for alcohol.   Or that Drunk Betsy wasn’t such a crybaby. 



DAY SEVEN:

 

I’m really starting to regret getting Iris a triangle as a stocking stuffer.  She’s been playing it all day.  All.  Day. Why can’t she play with the Legos Santa brought?  Legos are quiet. 



DAY TEN:



I’m doomed.  My husband, Quinten, has doomed me.  We started this morning playing with Play Doh.  Because all those new toys Iris got for Christmas?  Aren’t new anymore.  So, Play Doh.  Followed by more Candyland.  Oh joy.  (Remind me to hide that fucking game.)  Then my husband hauled out the puzzles.  All of them.  One after the other.  Before I could stop him, he got out the Ninjabread cookie mix.



I saw him going to the pantry.  I thought he was just going to get a snack.  When he reached for the Ninjabread cookie box, I tried to send him a psychic message.  Do not get that out!  Don’t do it!  I need that for Monday!  He didn’t get it.  So we made Ninjabread cookies.  And decorated them.  I wanted to say something.  I did.  It’s just, once Iris heard him suggesting a new activity, it was too late.  The last thing I needed was to be the mean mommy who wouldn’t let her do stuff.  So, while Quinten was failing to notice or correctly interpret the look I was giving him, he got out the coloring books, the crafting supplies, and the new DVD I was hoping to save for when I got really desperate. 



In one day, one single day, my husband burned through every single activity I had planned for the rest of winter break.  All of them.  Everything.  There are seven days left and I have nothing.  No.  Thing.



I don’t think he knew he was doing it.



I hope he didn’t know he was doing it. 



If he knew he was doing it, I will divorce him. 



DAY TWELVE:



None of the new toys are new anymore.  I just went to Target and bought Iris more toys.  Seven days after she got every toy ever invented for Christmas. 



DON’T YOU DARE JUDGE ME!



DAY THIRTEEN:



The new new toys aren’t new now.  I have no other plan.  I don’t think I’m going to make it.



DAY FIFTEEN:



I haven’t been out of the house in two and a half days.  And, even then, it was just that trip to get more toys at Target.  No one wants to have a playdate.  I haven’t talked to another adult besides my husband in a week.  Iris and I have been wearing our pajamas for two days now.  I am a horrible mother.  Today, we spent the whole day watching movies because I cannot play Candyland even one more time.  Cinderella.  The Little Mermaid.  Frozen.  Finding Nemo.  And Bambi.  Do you know what all those movies have in common? 



Iris:  Mommy?  What happened to Cinderella’s mommy?

Me:  Well, sweetie, she died and went to heaven.

Iris:  What about Ariel’s mommy?

Me:  (oh no, oh God no, please not this, please)  She died, too.

Iris:  Nemo’s mommy got eaten by a big fish.

Me:  That’s right.

Iris:  Why did Elsa and Anna’s mommy not come back?

Me:  Well, the boat got caught in a storm and….

Iris:  (starting to sob)  I don’t want you to DIE, Mommy!!!!!



Thanks, Disney.  Thanks a LOT.



DAY SIXTEEN:



Iris is inventing games. They have weird rules that she makes up as she goes along.  Like if I toss the ball into the hula hoop and it bounces out, I lose.  And if I toss the ball into the hula hoop and it stays in, she wins.  Or, if she hops across the room on one foot, she gets to take an extra turn.  None of these games have a point.  Or an end.  And I always play them the wrong way.  At least that’s what Iris keeps telling me.  The penalty for playing wrong?  I lose all my turns.  So Iris always wins.  And I don’t even care.  Because I have been doing this for fifteen days and I am seriously considering having another baby just so she has a built-in playmate.  I’d do it, too, if infants didn’t make such lousy playmates for four-year-olds. 



DAY SEVENTEEN:



Dear God,

I know you think it’s funny to give Iris a runny nose one day before she’s supposed to go back to school, but you’re wrong.  NOT!  FUNNY!  And if this turns out to be a thing and she has to stay home from school tomorrow, I will not make it.  I can’t do an eighteenth day.  I can’t.  I am the runner whose legs gave out ten feet from the finish line.  I have just 24 hours left to go, but no more movies to watch and no more toys to play with.  I am exhausted.  I lost my mind two days ago and I don’t even have the energy to go look for it. 



You take this runny nose back, God.  You FIX IT.  My little girl will be WELL tomorrow, right?  We have an understanding.  Right?



Amen.



DAY EIGHTEEN:



My child is back at school.  Repeat: My Child Is Back At School!!  I took a shower today with no one watching me.  I have not had to play Candyland.  I spoke with an actual, real-live adult.  Who I am not related to.  I got a whole load of laundry done without hearing the words, “you NEVER play with me!!”  So what if she had a runny nose?  It’s just a runny nose.  It’s not like she had hot lava flowing out of her nostrils. 



Although, if she did, I might have taken her to school, anyway.
 
You know, if I survived seventeen days of winter break, I can do this.  A four-day weekend won’t be so bad.  And I learned some stuff from winter break.  I have a plan.  A week ago, I managed to arrange a playdate for Friday afternoon.  I’ve hidden Candyland (and Princess Candyland) behind some old golf clubs on the floor of the coat closet in our downstairs hallway.  I have warned Quinten about which activities I have planned for which day.  And I have a new DVD stashed away in the laundry room to be brought out in case of emergency. 

Although, I just heard that Tuesday, the day Iris is supposed to go back to school, there might be snow and ice….

If you need me, I’ll just be in that corner over there, rocking and wishing I liked wine.