What I want to do is take the girls home. I want to pack their things and bundle them in jackets and take their hands in mine and walk out the daycare door and buckle one and then the other in the car and drive home. What I am actually doing is watching L throw a tantrum on the floor over the right to pack a lunch bag of the refrigerator's contents. There are at least three problems: the lunch bag in question is not L's, but her sister's, and E is not amused by L's eminent domain approach to lunch bag packing privileges; L's tantrum is blocking every other would-be departing family's access to the classroom fridge; and some naive but well-intentioned mommy has just tried to sweet-talk my tantrum-throwing demon. It is perhaps true that some kids can be distracted out of a tantrum. This technique will only enrage my L, however, and now she is spitting like a camel at this woman.
She is sitting on the floor in front of an open fridge and spitting at another child's mother.
True story: when I was fourteen and with my family on vacation in Israel, an aggressive but well-intentioned Bedouin grabbed my hand rather securely and offered to keep me in exchange for payment of two camels to my father. My head-in-the-clouds father didn't even notice that he was being propositioned but my brazen American mother declined the business transaction on behalf of the whole family.
Mathematically we don't actually have three problems, we have four. Maybe four-and-a-half: In addition to the three above, I'm tired and I want to go home and the lovely husband is traveling again and the not-yet-son is poking both up into my lungs and simultaneously down into my bladder such that I can neither breathe nor not wet my pants with ease. In the category of my general discomfort and unwillingness to accommodate L's new personal mandate, does that add up to one problem or at least one-and-a-half?
While you ponder that, L has found a daddy to camel-spit at now. Variety is the saliva of life.
II. In which being personally investigated proves to be the best contribution to your day
I've worked for the government for nearly six years now, which means it's been about five years since the foundation layer of my security clearances was established, which means it's time to re-investigate my personal life to see, essentially, if the government should still consider me trustworthy. So I've been interviewed and re-interviewed and colleagues have been interviewed and friends and neighbors have been interviewed. And friends who are also colleagues have especially been interviewed.
And just while I'm staring at my younger child spitting at the oxygen and feeling particularly untalented in the mothering department one of those colleague/friends cum daycare parent tells me she was interviewed today in relation to my security investigation. She tells me that the investigator asked how I handle turmoil or chaos; how I handle adversity; how easily I become flustered. She tells him, she tells me, that I am one of the most-even keeled people I know, that I demonstrate consistent good judgment, that when she had a family plan fall through she left her four-year-old in my care overnight, and one doesn't send one's four-year-old off with just anybody. She said the things that I wasn't feeling as my daughter spit at the construction paper decor until, in hearing them, I felt some balance restored to my sanity (though still not to my lung-bladder meridian).
And so, in the end, I still had to remove L bodily from the fridge, apologize to the other parents, pack E's lunch bag under covert stealth maneuvers and duress, and hoist a very self-mandated newly-two-year-old over my shoulder to get the girls to the car last night, but I was able to do so, ultimately, with patience, deep breathing, and a measure of grace.
My reward, of course, was measured out in spit.