What is it about late afternoon that everything suddenly goes to blazes in a handbag?
All day long everyone is happy. Then the clock flashes 5 PM. Suddenly my serene, quietly playing children turn into wailing howler monkeys. Toys fly through the air like a shower of smart bombs, and they shout, “Don’t look at me! Don’t touch me!” at each other.
While I referee the chaos I try to get dinner on the table as fast as possible, knowing crashing blood sugar contributes to their bad-humor. I shout things from the kitchen like, “Don’t chase your brother with dirty underwear!” and “Don’t shoot the dog with the Nerf gun. She can’t fight back!” It’s no wonder I routinely forget to put the tuna in the tuna casserole.
But getting dinner on the table doesn’t tame the bedlam. Everything is met with protest. “I don’t want chicken for dinner! I don’t want green beans! I don’t want chocolate pie for dessert!”
Something sinister and other-worldly must be at work to cause a child to declare undying hate for chocolate pie.
When I ask my son to solve a few simple problems on a math homework sheet he reacts as if I asked him to make sense of Bernie Madoff’s bank account records. “Why do I ALWAYS have to do subtraction! I have to do it EVERY day! I did this YESTERDAY. I CAN’T TAKE IT ANYMORE!”
A simple request to, “please take a shower,” elicits a reaction as if you asked him to submit to water torture. “Why do I ALWAYS have to take a shower? I took a shower YESTERDAY? I just keep taking showers and taking showers and taking showers. When do I get to not take a shower? I CAN’T TAKE IT ANYMORE!”
By 7 PM the last green bean has been consumed. The math problems are correctly solved, and horror of daily showering survived. Everyone settles down. The Band of Brothers are a Happy Few again.
Maybe we could just skip those two hours every day. Like some sort of Parental Sanity Savings Time?
It’s 1100 hours. Six more hours until Total Meltdown.