My children are generally happy and content kids. When I’m home with them in the summers we have very nice days. During the school year, they are both happy where they are. They are easy to manage and fun to be with. The older one is very helpful and creative. The younger one is still extremely cute and takes nice long naps in the afternoon. They make life pretty easy.
For us, it usually falls around 4:00, right as I get home from work. Suddenly, everyone becomes whiny, bored, and hungry – despite having just had a snack an hour ago. You don’t want to give them more snacks because dinner (which you’re trying to get started) is just around the corner. The little one is grabbing at your leg saying “Up! Up!” and you eventually have to put him on the other side of the gate so he doesn’t get burned or trampled. He starts to cry as he attempts to climb the gate, all the while still screaming “Up!UUUUUPPP!”
The older one, having used up all of her allotted TV time earlier in the day or week, is now “sooooo boooorrrredd” and “no” she doesn’t “want to go outside and play.” Trying to be a hands-on parent, you invite her to come help with dinner. When she enters the kitchen, the little one screams louder because he’s not also allowed in the kitchen. Eventually, he starts throwing things over the gate, some of which land in the dog’s water. In attempting to help pour ingredients, the older one ends up spilling something on the floor. Even though you maintained your temper, she starts crying inconsolably. You can’t believe there are still four hours until bedtime.
At that moment, your spouse walks in the door from work. All you want to do is shout “Please take them! It’s been a long day and I’m just trying to make dinner!” But you can tell from his face that it’s been an exceptionally long and stressful day for him, so you decide to give him a chance to settle himself. Somehow, after burning a few things (and possibly yourself) you finally get dinner on the table. You carefully portion out the amounts of vegetables everyone is required to eat before they can leave the table. You then get up three or four times to get the forgotten spoons, condiments, and napkins. Finally, you get to sit down to your (now cold) dinner. Whew.
Jim and I have both played this role. It’s just part of the parenting journey. Years from now, when we come home to a quiet house and fix our simple dinner-for-two, we may even miss it.
For now, I’ll just make sure there’s always a cold beer in the fridge to have after dinner