But Who’s Counting?
My 9-year-old and 7-year-old have 6 minutes to catch Bus 236 and ride 4 miles to PS 132. I pack 2 lunches, locate 70 cents for milk money, sign 3 papers and load up their backpacks, which seem to weigh 50 pounds each. My husband downs his second cup of coffee, aims a kiss at me, missing my cheek by 1/4 of an inch, and drives the 8 miles to work in rush hour traffic, which takes half an hour. The four-year-old turns on Channel 12 and Ernie introduces us to the number 5. I bribe my 2-year-old with 6 oyster crackers so that she will sit on the potty and do number two. I am on day 21 of my birth control pills. You know what that means.
I have to be at the dentist’s by 10:00 so he can x-ray my number 32 molar. It will take 14 minutes, cost me $92 and I’ll have to give the babysitter my last five-dollar bill. There’s construction on Highway 127 and my car has only 1.5 gallons of gas in it. Three Dog Night are on the oldies station, singing “One”. I’m 34 years old and all I have in my purse is $9.98 in cash, 3 sticks of gum, 4 credit cards, 1 pair of toddler training underpants, and no tissues. I graduated from college with a 3.85 GPA. Sometimes I wonder why.
I take the two youngest and go to K-Mart, which is having a sale. I spend $52.68 on 2 pairs of sneakers, 3 pairs of toddler jeans and a honking big box of disposable diapers. The 4-year-old tries 3 times to fit into the shelf under the shopping cart, the two-year-old manages 5 times to pull stuff off passing displays into the cart, I say “stop it!” approximately 837 times, and waste 17 minutes trying to fit into a pair of size 10 jeans. I have four kids, one husband, two cars, a dog, three parakeets and a 12-year-old house. Who cares about new jeans, anyway?
My 41-pound four-year-old falls asleep in the car and has to be carried up 17 steps to her bedroom. My 32-pound two-year-old throws her 12th fit of the day and has to be punished with 5 minutes in the corner. Their naps overlap by exactly 11 minutes. I fold two loads of towels, wash 3 pairs of pantyhose, and do 20 sit-ups. My mother calls and spends 20 minutes telling me about how she won $40 by choosing six numbers in the lottery. I open a 7-Up.
My older children are home from school and within 12 seconds, they dump two bookbags, two lunchboxes, 4 shoes, two jackets and about 27 papers in the living room. I count to ten. I listen to first grade reading and help practice fourth grade spelling. My son sings a commercial jingle 17 times and my daughter reveals that she has 3 boyfriends, one of whom she kissed on the elbow. I start fixing supper. Oprah is having a show about strengthening your marriage. I could tell her a thing or two about that. I’ve been married for 12 years. I get one “date night” a month, one video rental a week, and sex every other night. Hey, it’s cheaper than counseling and burns calories, too. My husband gets cable TV and all the action movies he wants. None of them good.
We get through dinner with only 2 spills, 3 arguments, and 4 spaghetti stains. Thank goodness for 409. My husband spends 7 minutes watching the sports news on TV, 13 minutes reading the front page of the paper, and one and a half minutes talking to me. Then he clears the table and I forgive him. I load the dishwasher. Three meals a day, seven days a week, 52 weeks a year. I don’t even want to do the math. I make up a grocery list. One loaf bread, a dozen eggs, large size jar of peanut butter, and coffee. Lots of coffee.
“Two, Four, Six, Eight, Who do we appreciate?” 12 cheerleaders, 9 years old, shake their pompoms and practice their cheers for PeeWee Football. My son and 16 other boys, shoulder pads dwarfing their heads, run around the field. Daughter #1 is playing hopscotch in the dirt. Daughter #2 is rolling in the dirt. Daughter #3 is at home with Daddy, pooping in her pants. I’m on Chapter 3 and just reread paragraph 4 for the fifth time. Daughter #2 whines for a Three Musketeers. I give her four Lifesavers.
Three sweet-smelling, freshly bathed daughters; one surly, funky-smelling son with 7 math problems to go. My husband falls asleep on the couch 8.5 minutes after I get home. I picture to myself one large baseball bat. Then I switch the TV from Channel 9 (football) to Channel 18 (Jerry Springer) and turn the sound WAY UP. I sing two lullabies, read 3 stories, find the baby’s blankie and take her on one last trip to the potty. I tell the 9-year-old four jokes and let him borrow my walkman so he can listen to 30-year-old comedy routines by the Smothers Brothers in bed. Get 4 hugs and 4 damp, noisy kisses. I give one long, satisfied sigh.
I pour myself 6 ounces of wine, $6.98 a bottle. I pick up two sweaters, 3 socks, 4 naked Barbie dolls, 5 pennies, and 6 crayons. My husband comes out of his stupor and rubs my back. We have 8 hours and 23 minutes before it all starts over again. I kiss him twice. We check the TV Guide. Oh, good. “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers”.