Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Fraycation

Ah, Christmas vacation - I have such a love/hate relationship with thee. It's my own fault, and I do it every time; I set my expectations somewhere between the Brady Bunch and a Norman Rockwell painting. I picture lazy mornings, playing in fluffy white snow, board games and sipping cocoa by a roaring fire, my children's faces beaming up at me with adoration.

Instead, the weather alternates between subzero temperatures, blizzard conditions and sleeting rain. Trapped inside, sibling fights break out. My house looks like it has been ransacked by wild chimpanzees. Their faces beam up at me, saying "Mooooooom. We're bored. There's nothing to do!" with their barely unwrapped Christmas gifts strewn at their feet. We play board games, but have to get creative because each one is missing a critical piece or two, or three. Norman Rockwell is nowhere to be found. Neither is Carol Brady. Or Alice, for that matter.

Finn, who is 4, gets particularly creative with large amounts of unstructured time. I was determined to try and relax a bit, stocked up on books to read, tried to sneak away now and again for some peace and quiet. I paid a price every time.

On Saturday Greta and Finn are playing happily in the playroom, some elaborate game involving Littlest Pet Shops and a large cardboard box. I doze off on the couch for a bit - I'm talking twenty minutes - and wake up to find Finn's face just inches from mine. "I didn't do it, Mom" he says. "The fairies did." He is holding a pair of kid's scissors behind his back. At his feet are seven or eight of my favorite Christmas tree ornaments, their little strings cut off. One Santa ornament is scandalously naked, his little red suit cut to shreds.

On Sunday there is a break in the weather - still freezing but the sun is out. I get them bundled up in their snowsuits, hats, mittens, scarves and boots and send them outside. I decide to take advantage of the quiet and return a quick phone call. Maybe five minutes goes by, and I peek outside to check on them. Greta is playing quietly in the snow, and Finn is marching around dressed only in his boots and pants, his coat, hat and mittens gone, with his scarf tied around his bare chest. "Why you so mad?" he asks when I whisk him inside. "I covered my boobies!"

On Monday we escape to higher ground for a few days: my parents' condo. As they always do around people who aren't me, the kids are angelic, polite and play nicely with each other. I get to sleep in two mornings in a row. Norman Rockwell makes his long anticipated appearance, and life is good.

We return home for New Year's Eve, head into Boston with friends and have a ball at the indoor activities at First Night. Monday rolls around, and they both head off to school. I wallow in a few hours of silence and peck away at the mess and the laundry, grateful to be back in a routine. 2010 is looking good, baby.

Finn comes home from school and I plug him into his new favorite movie, Snow Buddies. I sit down to read a chapter of my book, finally. After a few moments, he comes up to me with a long face.

"Da movie machine is bwoken," he says. "I don't know what happened."

Sure enough, the DVD player is on the floor, and the movie is stuck inside. I finally wrench the machine open, only to discover the interior is wet. It takes me a couple of minutes and one horrifying sniff to realize he has peed in the DVD slot.

Paint THAT, Norman Rockwell.




20 comments:

  1. OMG! You paint quite the visual with words, E! Thank you for the chuckle that jump started my day. Sorry about the DVD player. When my stepson, who is now almost 15, was about Finn's age he once put matchbox cars and cookies into the VCR.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Wow. He's got good aim anyway.....
    Maggie used to "mail" things in the vcr. I once found half a grilled cheese sandwich and Will likes to "mail" little slips of paper through the slots of the non-removable radiator cover. I had to buy one of those flexible things that you clean the dryer lint filter thingamabob with to get all the bookmarkers, laundry tickets, magazine inserts, grocery lists.... out so the house doesn't burn down.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Oh my! "The fairies did it"! What a (darn cute!) handful! :)

    ReplyDelete
  4. LOL!! That is one of the stories that will be told to his girlfriends, fiancé, and grandchildren!!! I'm sure it's not funny now, but it will be...

    ReplyDelete
  5. He PEED in it?!?!? OMG - of all the things I have heard inserted into VCR/DVD machines, urine is a new one. What happens when he and Ren are in the same room :)

    ReplyDelete
  6. Holy Crap I have the biggest grin right now.

    I love Finn. Not in an I'd-want-him-to-come-visit kind of way, but more in an I'm-so-glad-he-gives-you-such-good-material to write about way. Blogging as therapy, right?

    Hmm, and maybe you can save all these incidents up to make a board game of your own when they're teenagers, called "today's chore is your thank you for when you did THIS as a child..." :D

    ReplyDelete
  7. OH HOLY GOD!!! he's a wild one!!! (I love the covered my boobies comment)

    ReplyDelete
  8. I too see Christmas break as a relaxing few days to laze around the house and try out new recipes...and it always becomes a chaotic mess. My children NEED structure too!!

    ReplyDelete
  9. You could not make this stuff up! I can so relate.

    So, don't keep us in suspense, what does boy urine do to a VCR? I recently heard uncooked rice will resurrent a wet blackberry or ipod. I don't supposed the same thing would work for movie machines.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Thank God it wasn't an electric fence. I've heard that one hurts.

    ReplyDelete
  11. That DVD comment is hilarious. It must have taken real skill to accomplish that!

    I got the "We're bored...there's nothing to do" comment too and it drove me insane. You described it so well with the half opened presents.

    ReplyDelete
  12. I love this! Finn is such a character and you are divine at reconstructing it all. Please write a book some day about recovery/kids/moms. You are a true gem Ellie and freaking funny!

    ReplyDelete
  13. Konnie - I don't know how or why, but the DVD player still works. I don't particularly want to touch it, but it works. :)

    ReplyDelete
  14. Twenty years of babysitting (& one of the reasons WE don't yet have human children :p) and I have to say peeing in the movie player is a new one. Felicitations Finn, I'm not easily surprised! :) L

    ReplyDelete
  15. OMG!!!! Ellie, you win the prize for the funniest blog I have EVER read! As we speak my kids are racing over here to see what is so funny! I swear, where do they come up with this stuff??? So much for trying to get a little reading done.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Hilarious! Esp. the peeing in the DVD player. But also thinking of you.. I'm sure it's only funny in hindsight.

    ReplyDelete
  17. OMG!!!! Ellie, you win the prize for the funniest blog I have EVER read! As we speak my kids are racing over here to see what is so funny! I swear, where do they come up with this stuff??? So much for trying to get a little reading done.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Thank God it wasn't an electric fence. I've heard that one hurts.

    ReplyDelete
  19. He PEED in it?!?!? OMG - of all the things I have heard inserted into VCR/DVD machines, urine is a new one. What happens when he and Ren are in the same room :)

    ReplyDelete
  20. Oh my! "The fairies did it"! What a (darn cute!) handful! :)

    ReplyDelete