I rushed to my son’s school to pick him up on a shortened day. His parent conference was an arbitrary day where his teacher could fit me in. I asked if she had an earlier appointment and she fit me in immediately. She tries so hard for order, but teachers rarely get parents that show up on time, or show up at all when work and other kids come before a report we see on a card. But I wanted to meet with her so she could tell me he’s missed too much school and been tardy far too often because the numbers in black and white with a legend in the corner couldn’t be clear enough. I remind her of the day in dress and heels I carried him over my shoulder from the car onto campus and left him with the principal, later calling in tears on my way to work to see how much he hated me. My knees hated me for days after that. He’s doing well in spite of his absences and still has time to improve. We’re starting separate homework packets because separate homes weren’t enough. The line between responsibility tears him in two, but he accepts it with a smile because this insanity is his insanity and it’s somehow acceptable.
We head home and the fight for his homework begins. He wants my phone. “Can’t find a pencil.” Now in need of a sharpener. “This is too hard. We haven’t done the work that she told you we did.” But it says review and I know he’s capable when I tell him I’m struggling and I need him to show me. “What are you doing?” As I’m writing thank you’s to lovers in my past. “I’m writing a zombie story,” because he knows it’s entirely a possibility and more exciting than therapy writing. He needs my full focus to get me to give him answers he works really hard to not figure out. I continue writing and he slowly figures it out.
But his brothers will be home in 10 minutes and the three of them will start fighting over the two computers. Miraculously, he gets it done and has minutes to spare before the brothers get home. Once home, they fight, as predicted because they each want time on the computer immediately. It’s the preferred routine and there’s a system to their chaos when they can predict what will happen. Kid1 tries to pry kid2 from the chair, then sees the food and starts with bribery. The computer battle is won and their after school hungers are sated. Mom’s cherry macarons decided the battle. Kid2 takes his clothes off because there are tags that scratch, and really, he’s had clothes on all day and it should be enough. He sits and strokes his boy parts through his clothes and I remind him we can see him and his restless hands stop but he takes the tablet into the bedroom where I won’t hear his videos as easily.
“Hey kids, it’s a soup day. Chicken vegetable okay?” Yeses and sures and “I would like that, Mom.” I start boiling a chicken with loose skin and too much blood. My stomach is roiling from the stresses I ignore. I run a bath and heat eases pain in my old lady knees. I yell to kid3, “want a bath tonight? Now’s the time if you do.” Followed by, “no mom, I’m busy mom . . . I’ll shower later.”
Chicken is cooked and cooled and I’m burning fingertips, tearing the bird apart. “Are you sure you want soup? I still have time to make something different.” Kid1 wants soup. Kid2 thinks he can get past celery and cooked carrots. He’ll eat it raw, but cooked carrots and celery have a texture my sensory sensitive autistic children can’t always handle. Kid3 loves mommy’s soup. He can’t wait for mommy’s soup.
Soup is served and only Mom and Kid1 will eat it. Kid2 wants bread and only bread. Kid3 isn’t hungry.
It’s time for showers and bed, and I start with kid2 who wants to avoid his shower just a little longer because he’s watching a video. I check the video and it’s on pornhub and I have to explain that it’s inappropriate and gives a wrong idea of real sex. Good sex. Sex that isn’t violence based and I have to pry my eyes away from the sex scenes that held my sex starved mind because it’s a video where it looks like orgasms are being given which is different entirely from solo play. I’m so tired of solo play.
Kid2 in the shower, then kid3. He wants that bath – once offered and rejected and he will cry until I give in but I don’t give in to his bath. Instead I soap him up in the shower. And it’s a battle I’ve lost that his Dad always wins. I tell myself he just needed the cry that he cries every time he comes home. He doesn’t need to control me too, that’s just a side effect – a latent benefit and then I can’t see the manifest benefit. I can’t see the antecedent to the behavior that I just rewarded and I’m the one with the consequence. He’s out of the shower and dripping wet and insists on climbing into bed, dripping wet because that’s what Dad does. It’s okay with Dad. He’s okay with Dad. And he’s hungry now and refuses the soup that burned my fingers and I’m headed out to the deep freezer in the laundry room to get him a Hot Pocket that he eats halfway through before falling asleep.
Kid1 in the shower with a smirk and a grunt. I ask too much of him but I ask and he does what I want, if slower than I want and the night has wound down and we’re done. The pressure builds in my head and I go over it again because I can’t see where we went from smiles and hugs and mutual claims to have missed each other to the mess this night dissolved into. I can’t see where it shifted and my mind races through it again and again.
I don’t drink. I won’t cry. I will see the crap for what it was and hug them in their sleep because they are so well behaved then. I will say prayers for their peace and obedience as I tuck them in. And I will have Butter Pecan gelato because I don’t drink even if I really want to right now.