The Berenstain Bears’ Lessons on Grumpiness

Ah there’s nothing like that 7:00 a.m. rush to get the kids out the door in the morning. The calling out from every which room in the house, hoping your voice reaches the crevice where your kid happens to be tying his shoe or changing into “more comfortable underwear,” asking, “Did you pack your lunch? Be sure to grab your jacket!”

Inside my head I think, “The sooner you leave, the sooner I can take an actual breath of air and think for half a second. Maybe even my ass will unclench.” I hand off a jacket and a lunch box amidst grumbles of “I don’t need a jacket!” and “How come you didn’t buy any juice boxes? How can you expect me to eat lunch if I don’t have a juice box?!”

But this is a story of too much grumpy togetherness created by two weeks of Christmas vacation in a house with two school-aged kids, a teacher dad, and a back-to-school mom. That means we had nineteen days together over the break. Nineteen days all together.

So, Buh-bye, kids. Off to school you go! March your little seven- and nine-year old selves with your smart, back-talking mouths into school! I hope that you come home repeating something your teacher said, because when you talk about your teacher I know that means that was an interesting part of your day that you enjoyed. I hope that you sit with your friend on the bus in the afternoon, and I hope that you have friends to play with at recess, you beautiful kids that I love more than anything in the world.

But let me remind you of what the past two weeks looked and sounded like around the house to give you an idea of why I’m excited you are heading out to school today.

To steal the generic intro of a Berenstain Bear book, I’m not sure when all the grumpiness started. Maybe it was too much fighting over the video games. Maybe it was the fighting over which toys belonged in the playroom, or maybe it was the complaining (screaming version) that I had the gall to invite a friend over to play with you because I was tired of listening to you two kids yelling at each other day after day! Don’t forget, moms: no good deed goes unpunished!

But here’s one re-cap that might help un-fog your memory. Remember the car ride to Chuck E. Cheese yesterday? First of all, you kids got to have sleepovers and as soon as your friends left, you complained you were bored. Midway into the long, rainy afternoon Daddy announced he wanted to eat at the Mexican restaurant and Mommy said that would be fine if she got to play a quick game of Skee ball at Chuck E. Cheese first. One kid cheered; the other kid who had been griping of boredom the entire day said, “But then I won’t be home in time and I have so much to do!” The irony alone makes me want to just throw my hands up in the air. Or take shots of tequila.

My husband helped me power through the complaining about going to Chuck E. Cheese and we hopped into the car. “The thing I hate about my sister is how stubborn she is!” spouts out the anti-Chuck E. Cheeser. “Whoa! That’s enough!” I butt in. “Right now I want you to give a compliment to each person in this car.”

“Daddy, I love you SO much!” the little Eddie Haskell replies.

“That’s not a compliment,” I retort.

“Daddy, what I like about you is you are so lovable,” she clarifies.

“Ok, now compliment Mommy,” the Hubs prods.

“I like your hair.”

Little Haskell turns her attention to her sister and, because she is forced to give a compliment, offers, “You have cute butt cheek dimples.”

She is genuinely pleased with herself for having completed the task of forced compliments. I, on the other hand, was wishing I was already at the Mexican restaurant because those images of tequila shots suddenly come rushing back to mind.

For the record, Mommy had a very pleasant two rounds of Skee Ball despite a rogue family of three sprawling out across five lanes so that I had to challenge the Hubs one game at a time. I beat him in the first round and by the second round was ready to bolt out of that zoo of flashing lights, children running and shouting, and the animated mouse singing and dancing. It was time for dinner and a margarita! (You didn’t think I’d refer to tequila for no reason, did you?!) Naturally the kids were not ready to go, including the one who didn’t even want to go to Chuck E. Cheese in the first place. Shocker. Also for the record, my children were of course on their best behavior there in that seventh circle of hell. Go figure. So here’s to a New Year, a new semester, and hoping that some of the grumpiness will dissipate with a little less together time now that school is back in session!