I’m confounded by the extremes of my boys’ behavior. That’s pretty much the only conclusion I can draw from this week’s parenting experience. I’m guessing my kids aren’t the only ones whose behavioral pendulums swing from very good to very bad in 0.3 seconds.

But it drives me crazy.

I woke up on Wednesday morning from a very deep sleep. It was just before seven when one of the boys started their morning wakeup call. When I heard the baby cry, I realized that he’d slept the entire night without waking once. Which means I had slept for almost seven consecutive hours.

It was the first time in seven months that I’d gotten that much sleep.

I woke up happy. And rested. And the children were delightful. They crawled into our bed and cooed at the baby while shedding the remains of their sleepy states; preparing to consume their bowls of cereal.

We went downstairs and, after breakfast, I asked the older boys to help me clean the living room. Out of the blue they started singing the ‘clean-up song’. Simultaneously. Cheerfully. While picking up their toys without any complaint or protest.

I swear this actually happened. I was right there beside them.

‘This is going to be the best day E-V-E-R’, I thought to myself as I made the coffee.

And then the professor left for class. And it started flurrying outside. And the boys were running around the house like rabid dogs, attacking each other with zeal. ‘We’re crazy!’ my oldest remarked.

I hadn’t noticed.

And I took the boys to IKEA just to get out of the house. And we were almost late for Kindergarten. And neither the two year old or the baby would nap. And I had to take them to the grocery store just to maintain my sanity. And dinner was a disaster. And by the time the professor crossed the threshold of our home, all I could do was run over to him, stuff the baby in his still-wearing-a-coat arms, pick up the copy of ‘O’ magazine I’d gotten at the grocery store and huddle on the couch with a ‘do not disturb’ look on my face.

So much for my ‘best day ever’.

It seemed like every day this week was like that. Tuesday started out horrendously with whining and crying from the minute the blondies were awake. My oldest decided to use a few choice words to let me know how displeased he was with me. Nobody liked anybody, it seemed.

By the afternoon, the Gort had made a snack (peanut butter and jelly on pita bread) for him and his brother to share. And I found them sitting on the deck steps, side by side, sharing their food with each other. And the (imaginary) birds.

And, two seconds later, there were fisticuffs.

This afternoon all four of us were playing on the living room floor. I’d finally found one activity all three boys can participate in equally: shredding paper. They ripped an educational brochure to shreds and the older boys threw pieces up in the air while yelling something that sounded like ‘happy’ or ‘hap-bee’. I couldn’t tell.

There was light streaming in through the window and paper falling on the floor like confetti. And no one was crying. And it was almost movie-like.

And then it was over. The room was a mess. The boys were throwing toys at each other. And the tears were flowing. And the baby remembered that he had two teeth that were begging to be set free from his gums.

Actually, maybe the only conclusion I can draw from this week’s parenting experience is that a beautiful ‘moment’ with a child can last no more than forty-five minutes.

But an ugly ‘moment’ can last much, much longer.


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