I get a little note this morning when I open my desk, informing me that I'm mean.
I ask my oldest what that was for and she tells me it's for the other night when I disciplined her and the others for acting like yahoos in public.
We went out the other night for Taco Tuesday. Yeah, it's a thing in our house. I've kind of shot myself in the foot with these theme nights. Anyway, we decided to meet Grandpa out for dinner at a neighborhood pizza/taco place we used to frequent when I was a kid. My oldest protested because it's not her favorite place; it was kind of spur of the moment and she wanted to make food at home. I listened to all complaints, tried to muster up as much empathy as possible, then informed her it was a done deal and that I expected everyone to be on good behavior.
After the pep talk, I expected everything to be magically wonderful.
The two-day older, wiser me laughs.
Why on earth did I think we could sit through an entire dinner and act like normal human beings?
Amateur hour starts early with demanding money from Grandpa for the Pac-Man machine that's been there since I was born. He's a good sport and coughed up the change. My first mistake was allowing this and not marching the ungracious cretins out the door then, but they are only kids.
Complaints about food choices combined with the distraction of Pac-Man forced my hand to pull the trigger on our order without actually going child-by-child, taking every minuscule request. I figured how could I go wrong with a cheese pizza and a few plain tacos.
Again, the wiser me laughs.
Food was brought out, distributions were made accompanied with the mom stare. You all know the one. The one where I'm saying "Try me and you'll be sorry." We start eating and everything is great, for about five minutes.
The twins have trouble taking their time eating. I'm not sure if this is a twin thing ... like they are afraid the other twin is going to eat their food. The one sitting next to me is eating her taco at rapid speed. Before I can say, "slow down," she grabs her neck and I know she's choking. I give her a second to cough it up. No dice. I then apply the Heimlich maneuver. She coughs it up. I give her a couple sharp pats to the back to make sure we are cool, then sit her on my knee, give hugs and reassurance that she is fine.
I know everyone in the establishment is staring while none of the rest of my crew even looks up from their plates. I'm reminding everyone to chew their food when I realize that they are distracted by Pac-Man and are going back and forth from the table. I'm calling them back to finish their food when the first fight breaks out. It ends with my oldest kicking the other twin.
I sit her on a bench and tell her to sit there until we leave, then I have Twin A sit down next to me, threatening to get a baby seat and willing everyone to finish their food, all while I watch my oldest lie down on the bench like we are not in public.
We finally get out of there. I think it was only 40 minutes start to finish, and I tell the kids I'm disappointed with all of their behavior and that I expect more from all of them. My oldest starts yelling at me that I expect too much, especially of her, and that I don't treat her fairly and expect more of her than all the others. I point out that she's 10 and her sisters are 6 and she's right, I expect more. She accuses me of liking them more. I assure her that I love all of them the same, but at this particular moment in time, I'm not exactly fond of any of them. My love is equal and unchanging for all of them, but my ability to enjoy their company may waver depending on their behavior.
Help me help you! Ahhhhhhhhh!
That's when the boy decides to come to his sister's defense and tells me I'm way too hard on all of them.
Well, isn't that sweet.
I first make the mistake of disagreeing. Never engage the enemy. Always use that love and logic, "I love you too much to argue about it" while smiling like a crazy person. They love that.
I tell him to keep his two cents to himself and to stay away from fire. Actually, I'm yelling it as I pull into the driveway.
He starts crying and says he's running away. He gets halfway down the driveway as my "fix it" twin melts down in hysteria because she thinks he's serious. She's screaming for me to do something. I assure her he's bluffing, then have to explain what bluffing means. I usher her inside and tell her to get her pj's on. I go and get him, tell him I love him and that he's going to need to control his emotions a bit better. We all do. Then I inform him he will be reading to the twins tonight and reassuring them that he will not be running away, not now, not ever. Nobody has time for that.
I put the kettle on and begin to reflect on how I could have handled things better.
Maybe I am just a mean mom: Saving their lives and stopping them from running away.
I expect many more mean mom notes. After all, it's easy to be a critic. But I will wear the mean mom hat like a boss, because that's what I am.
I'm not here to make friends, I've got a job to do.
Jen Reekie was born and raised in Quincy and received a communications degree at the University of Kansas, which has come in quite handy as she communicates every day with four children who don't hear a word she says. This stay-at-home mom enjoys the challenge, though, and shares her experiences in this blog, "Mum's the Word." She welcomes your feedback, questions and stories about staying sane while raising kids.