Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Zero to Terror Attack in Six Seconds

It's Sunday evening and we have just finished a really nice dinner. Everyone is happy and relaxed. The littles, adorable in their jammies, actually cleared the table without being reminded and were each rewarded with an episode of "Phinneas and Ferb" and a popsicle. Even the baby got a popsicle in her high chair and she was thrilled, as were her throbbing gums.  Frank Capra would have been proud.

Since all seemed well, I handed off all kid tending-duties to the Cap'n and went downstairs to try and get some laundry done. And maybe even change the cat box. I'm down in the basement, enjoying the quiet and imagining a week when I am actually, for once, on top of all my hated housework... when the attack began. The entire duration of the incident lasted about six minutes. Here goes.

First, the phone rings. And rings. And rings some more. [Editorial Note: That would be me. -Kate]

Then I hear the baby start to cry. Perhaps shriek would be a better word.

Then upstairs, I hear my husband bellow: "I am in the POTTY. Do not come at me with THE PHONE. What the?! HELLLO? HELLO? Thumbelina, your mommy is downstairs."

Then I hear scampering feet and realize with dread that they are scampering towards me. I hear other small feet, these ones are not scamper-y but rather make a noise like "slappy - slappy - slappy" which means that Hawk is barefoot and he has followed his sister downstairs.  (Despite the sound of his feet, he is neither a Hobbit nor a sea lion.)

The baby shifts her shrieking into high gear as windows and random glasswear begin to shatter from the force and power of her small lungs.

The kids throw open the laundry room door and announce breathlessly: "MOMMMY!! MOM! MOMMMY! The phone rang!" and then hand it to me. I take it and see one missed call from Kate. I then ask: "Guys, why is the baby screaming?"

They look at each other and begin to argue over who will tell me first. The argument immediately escalates into yelling and before I can cross the room to separate them it has degenerated into a full-on, cartoon-style brawl. It's just a ball of dirt with fists, and feet and x's flying out of it as it rolls across the laundry room. I hear words like: "PORKCHITTER!" and "Worst! Ever! In the EARTH!" coming out of it.

The baby is still screaming upstairs. It's getting louder. The cries and wails are reaching a crescendo, and I am pretty sure the house is about to fall down. Then I hear a toilet flush.

I break up the fight using the old school momming methods I learned back in the day. I grabbed each kid's left ear and pulled them in opposing directions. "NOW. SAY. YOU'RE. SORRY." They glare at each other and spit out apologies.

Upstairs the crying, inexplicably, gets LOUDER. The Cap'n shouts "I got her! I got her!" as if about to catch a fly ball in deep right field.

"What is going on up there?" I ask the children. And I hear this:

Hawk: "Da baby was eating her popsicle and Woody was being so bad and I said "BAD DOG!" and he was begging and--"
Thumbelina: "The baby shared her popsicle with him and I thought that was so gross because--"
Hawk: "And I thought it was hilarious--"
Thumbelina: "Because Woody's breath is the most disgusting smell ever in the earth and it smells like old garbage and--"
Hawk: "The baby would lick the popsicle and then she would let Woody lick it and then she would lick it and then--"
Thumbelina: "And stupid Hawk just laughed, but I tried to tell Daddy but he said no go away I'm on the potty and then the phone rang--"
Hawk: "And then Woody stole the baby's popsicle and he took it to his special place to eat it and the baby got REALLY mad and her face got all red--"
Thumbelina: "and she starting screaming really loud so we came down here to give you the phone."

I stare at them. I remember to close my mouth. They turn around and scamper/slappy down the hall. The crying gets slightly quieter. I return to the laundry and finish moving over the one load I had started. Then I hear noises. Bad noises. Hawk and Thumbelina have apparently rediscovered that they have a playroom in our basement filled with toys. This rediscovery may have been prompted by the four HOURS of cleaning, sorting, and purging I had done the day before. It all looked new and nice and fun. I had a premonition of badness. By the time I has sprinted down the hallway three things were occurring simultaneously:

  1. The kids were both screeching at each other and shredding the playroom into many small, choke-able bits, as if in a meth-fueled frenzy of destruction.
  2. The baby's shrieks became notably more angry and agitated and I heard the Cap'n say:"Good GAWD, Baby, what is the matter with you?! Don't do that to the dog!"
  3. The phone started ringing. It was Kate. Again.
Of course I answered the phone. Before I could I say a word she asks me: "Where the hell are you? Because it sounds either like the monkey house at the zoo or Kabul." I sighed: "I think a little of both. I'll call you right back."

I look at my children who like Thing 1 and Thing 2 are actually swinging at each other with wiffle ball bats and making contact. I used my loudest voice: "WHAT. DO. I. LIKE. TO. DO. BEST?" They stopped swinging and said in unison: "Send kids to bed early." I pointed up the stairs and watched them go, their multi-level, Mumbai-style attack suddenly deflated by the prospect of an early bedtime. No more scamper/slappy. Only sad shuffling.

I walk upstairs behind them and look at my bewildered husband who is holding a baby whose face is a color usually reserved for tomatoes and hot rods. She is covered in more goopy mucous than a Chuck E Cheese ceiling tube. I take her, and the caterwauling subsides to noisy whimpering. Two bedroom doors slam angrily closed, acknowledging defeat.

"Did you send them to bed? (points to the kids' rooms) Have you got this one? (nods at the baby) Thank Gawd. (sighs) Lydia, what the hell just happened? All I did was go the bathroom..." He is pale and seems shaky. The house is eerily quiet. The baby's whimpering subsides into snuffling. My husband and I stare into each other's eyes, reaching the same conclusion as we say in unison:

"I need a drink."

Then the phone rings. AGAIN. I have got to change my number.

[After Action Report:   When the Cap'n and I later compared notes, I learned that the LTS somehow moved upstairs sometime during their 6-minute siege to play a game of baseball in the hallway.  That is, until the Hawk plunked his sister with a fastball.   That might explain the Obi-wan meets Darth Vader style baseball bat battle.  Also, the purloined popsicle was later discovered as an icy, wet, lime green puddle staining the white carpet on my side of the bed.  Bad dog.] 


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