Three things happened in simultaneity today:
1) After ten minutes of unexplainable tears, E burst out with: I think you hate me.
2) G yelled from somewhere on the left: Owww! and shrieked.
3) L yelled from somewhere on the right: Mama? Can you help? It hurts a lot.
So the lovely husband was on an airplane as this all happened, and in fact now he's on another airplane and you're getting the honor of this story before he does, but the point of that was really to tell you that he was no option in this three-way split.
I'm just curious: what would you do?
I squooshed up E's face in my hands, kissed her on the forehead, promised her I loved her very much, and that we'd have to continue our conversation after, despite my regrets for doing so. Then I deputized her: what's the point of being six if you can't be a little caregiver yourself sometimes? "Go check on your sister and see what's up with her. I'm going to find you brother."
Now I'm going to use words you're not supposed to type in blogging.
Mister Man G is in the adorable phase of potty training, which is the one immediately preceding the practical phase, which is the disgusting one, of course. He likes to talk about the potty. He likes to tell us he needs to use the potty, generally immediately after he's relieved himself in his diaper. That's fine, right? He's making the association.
But then he had to take today, when his father left on a multi-day business trip, to go from abstract to action. Excellent timing. He disrobed and opened the toilet and climbed up on the stool and tried to put the ducky seat insert onto the toilet (if you've never faced potty training before, you probably need the explanation that it's a smaller seat that fits into the one that you would use so that tiny tushies don't go dunking anywhere they shouldn't)--
and he somehow slammed the ducky seat down on his penis, pinching it between the two seats. When I got to him a second later, he was awkwardly holding on/hovering over, yelling Hey! My penis! which would obviously be very funny, except it wasn't.
Meanwhile, E ran back from checking on her sister to say Mama. You need to come. Quick. She's stuck on the swing and she's screaming that it hurts.
L had gone outside in a shirt and unders, which is not uncommon. She has this ladybug rope swing that consists of a flat wooden circle for a seat and a polyester green rope for the rest of it. She had taken a running leap onto the swing, and somehow twisted the rope up with her unders, pinching one of her labia.
And this is all, of course, the kind of story that shouldn't be told, except two of my kids succeeded in separate acts of genital mutilation in unison while the third pulled out emotional weaponry, and really, just tell me, what would you do?
In the end-- and I know this is the part you want to hear-- but it's so anticlimactic I almost feel like stopping-- in the end, everyone was fine. Well, there might be a minor case of girlybits rope burn. There was certainly a reminder that we should wear clothing when we leave the house. And the boy, I think, will not soon forget that he's supposed to ask for help in this early phase of potty training.
As for E? She's fine. We're fine. This is apparently the summer of Learning About Big Feelings, and because I had spoken sternly to her about something else earlier in the day, she got some worst-case-scenario doomsday interpretation running unchecked through her sweet little brain. I think, actually, she always just needs a little extra love-flavored reassurance when her daddy is gone. Timing just wasn't our ally today. Clearly.
Now, let's discuss: obviously I spend a lot of time single-parenting. Many of you do, too, I know. Some of you do it permanently. I get it. I'm not a perpetually bumbling fool at it but coming here to discuss my days of quiet competence isn't very interesting, is it?
It was five minutes today, and then it was over. But it was five minutes of what-in-the-hell-am-I-supposed-to-be-doing-because-this-is-just-not-adequate. How do you handle the moments when everything is all urgent on top of urgent on top of urgent? What do you do?
Or: tell me a story of a complete parenting juggling catastrophe and make me laugh in commiseration. I wouldn't mind that at all.