In the past week, we’ve had children crawling into bed with us at 5 a.m. (nightmares), coming back downstairs at nine p.m. (scary wind against windows), sleepwalking at 11 p.m. (accident, wet sheets), among other disruptions.
We have discovered dog food crushed into rugs, crayons on the doors, paper towel rolls in the sink, Nerf arrows shot into the walls.
Stuffed animals have been peed on, have been washed, and have been dried in front of the fire because if you try to stick a stuffed animal in the dryer the house starts to smell like burning chemicals. Someone decided to add water to her milk just to see what it would taste like. I found a carrot on the floor this morning, even though the last time the kids ate carrots was Saturday. The floor’s been washed since then. It just…appeared. On the floor. A carrot.
We’ve been late getting out the door to school because Quinlan tried to wear a skirt with yesterday’s pizza sauce still on it and refused to change, and it took Saoirse a full ten minutes to button her uniform shirt. Saoirse has tried to smuggle a homemade wooden jewelry box, Shopkins, and a plastic dolphin in her backpack to school. Cian won’t go down for a nap unless he’s got a toy Thomas the Tank Engine train in each of his hands. He doesn’t play with them, mind you. Just…holds on to them, then throws them out of the crib when he doesn’t want them anymore. The children will sit on the couch, and if there happens to be a pile of folded laundry on said couch that hasn’t made it upstairs and into drawers yet, well. The children will sit directly on top of those piles.
We have children. We have three children. We are in a combat zone of flying Nerf arrows and mucus and dirty diapers and crumbs. It is war up in this house, the grown-ups against the kids. The struggle is real, and it is constant. I stepped into a pile of something clear and slimy last night. It’s gone now, the spot cleared and sanitized, but I still don’t know what it was.
The other day I was in the kitchen (you knew that already), cleaning up after lunch while Quinlan sat on the couch across the way. I looked up to see her rooting around in her sinuses with a finger. I said something to her about it, mildly. She just smiled.
“I eat my boogers,” she told me. Just like that, a matter of fact. My gorgeous four-year-old eats her boogers.
“You eat your boogers?!” I replied. I was scraping mushed grapes off a plate, trying not to gag. “Oh, jeez.”
Quinlan just laughed at me.
“It’s what children do!” she giggled. And she’s right.
They are tiny, these children. But they are large in their abilities, and their strategies outsmart ours every single time. Their tenacity at wreaking havoc upon a perfectly peaceful home is a trait I’d admire–the tenacity part, not the bashed-in drywall part–if I weren’t so tired of popping decapitated heads back onto dolls and stick horses.
David and I, two perfectly capable human beings, are locked in battle against three children under the age of six. The six-year-old still can’t quite tie her own shoes, the four-year-old is still taking baths, the two-year-old is caged inside a crib for fourteen hours out of a single day. And yet they’ve declared war, their sticky little fists punching the air with glee, asking for a refill of milk as they plot their next maneuver. This is war, and they know it. Of course they do.
Because the children are winning.