You would think that, as a mother of five, I would be immensely relieved to have two of the five off to school all day. But I am not.
Part of it is nothing but practical: Rob and William can be given tasks as if they were little remote-controlled cleaning machines--albeit extraordinarily inefficient ones I'd return to the store if I'd bought them for this purpose. All summer I could say, "Get the dustbuster and vacuum under the high chairs" or "Put all those toys back into the playpen" or "Put this dishtowel in the laundry," and they would do it. I must have been giving out orders casually all day long without even noticing: with Rob and William back in school, the floor is littered with toys and towels, cereal and socks. It's oppressive and depressing.
Also, they voluntarily played with the twins, and they did it more than I'd realized, because now I'm scraping bored twins off every surface. Rob could even lift a twin out of a crib--so if Henry was nursing when Edward and Elizabeth woke up from their naps, Rob could go get the twins up and give them cups of juice. Now it's a choice: do I listen to Henry cry, or do I listen to the twins crying? Choose your own soundtrack!
And Rob and William could be trusted to watch the twins for short periods of time, like when I needed to pee or when the laundry needed to be cycled. A few days ago, while I was changing Henry's diaper, Edward somehow magicked out of the ether a brown permanent Sharpie marker and used it to color on my yellow recliner. Yesterday he did the same with a black Sharpie, and also crayoned a clipboard. He must be squirrelling away any unattended weapons of destruction, then waiting for his opportunity to strike.
But it isn't just the convenience of having minions to do my bidding. Another part of it is something I haven't experienced since William was a new baby and Rob was a toddler: the unpleasant feeling of being trapped in a house where no one speaks your language. Without me knowing it, Rob and William were fulfilling some of my need for sentient companionship, for people to talk to--even if all they were saying was "HE HIT ME!" "NO I DID NOT!" and all I was saying was "Settle down now, I mean it" and "You are TOO WILD, go to your rooms for fifteen minutes." Now I'm here all day with people who can't even tell me what they want, or understand when I tell them what I want. I feel like the only intelligent life on this planet, handmaiden to the apes.
Life-improving products, part 4 - (Continued from part 1, part 2, and part 3.) Stearns Youth Life Vest (photo from Amazon.com). I’d been too scared to take the kids to any body of water oth...