Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The Witching Hour

I have the same problem every morning -- getting the kids out the door, with everything they need, without being late or losing my mind or my temper. And because we set timers and countdown to 8:24 like we're NASA getting ready to launch, we're actually pretty successful at avoiding drama as we head to school.

And then, about nine hours later, I think some sort of other NASA countdown happens in my house. One that I didn't initiate, but can neither stop nor keep from turning into a full system failure every furkin' night.

We call it The Witching Hour.

What the hell happens at 5:30pm? Does the gravitational pull of the moon get stronger or something? Is it because it's sorta day and sorta night? Are they part canine? [Editor's Note: Because my geriatric gimpy beagle can tell you within about two minutes on either side when it's his dinnertime. Even if you factor in daylight savings, that dog knows when it's time to eat. -Kate] What is it about the 90 minutes between 5:30 and 7:00pm that turn my children into treacherous, sniveling, whiny, loud, interrupt-y people?

Lefty and Happy go from being buds and co-horts into being each other's punching dummies and tattle bitches. A game of basketball h-o-r-s-e turns into a shriek fest of "GIMME THE BALL! IT'S MY TURN!" "NO! IT'S MY TURN! YOU'RE A HO!" "NUH-UH! I'M A HOR! YOU'RE A HO!" And then invariably someone takes a ball to the face.

McGee celebrates the 5:30 arrival by overdosing on her own hormones. [I'm really enjoying the pre-teen years, thanks for asking. The only thing that makes it at all funny is that right when I'm escaping it, Lydia will be plunging in. -Kate] I swear if that kid stomps across the floor one more time, she's going to plummet right through into the basement. It's amazing she doesn't have permanent damage from all that eye rolling. How many times can you possibly focus on the inside of your own forehead before your tendons just snap?

Ninety minutes later, it's over. Partly because - again - their internal clocks have somehow determined that it was time to return to their normal, fuzzy cuddly selves. Partly because they've eaten and seen McLovin, which tends to ricochet everyone back from their Lord of the Flies mentality. And, partly because I've screamed myself so stupid that it's entirely possible they're still acting like rabid howler monkeys and I'm just too dumb to notice.

And then I sit at the table like I just escaped from a psych ward in Rikers and look at McLovin, who's quietly reading through the mail and drinking a beer, and he says, "So, how was everything today?" and I think about telling him about The Witching Hour and how sometimes I think they do it on purpose just to f**k with me because it all comes to a grinding halt about 17 seconds before he walks in the door. 

As an experiment last week, I moved the clocks back twenty minutes. Well, thank you Science. Because not only did you prove that it is in fact nature and not nurture that makes the Crazy happen every night, but you were so kind as to drill the point home by making it last until it truly was 7pm. That extra twenty minutes was just. so. fantastic.

So here's the thing, Witching Hour. I'm ready for you now. I've got snacks ready, fun things to do, some water, a timer, and a strategy in place. Bring it on. Tomorrow night, I'll totally be hiding in the curtains.

(c)Herding Turtles, Inc. 2009 - 2010

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