One day, Valerie was sick and at work anyway. I asked her why she didn't just go home and rest. She told me it was easier to be at work sick than at home sick, because she would have to pick her two year-old up from daycare, and that just wasn't worth it.
"Well why don't you just ask your daughter to play nicely while mommy rests? Explain to her why you're not feeling well. Give her things to do and go lay down." I waited, smug in my knowledge that I had outsmarted the mommy. Sometimes, people just can't see the forest for the trees, you know?
I don't know why she didn't just bean me with a legal file, or worse, stop talking to me. She must have been extraordinarily ill. But that's not the point of my story. I remember thinking to myself, and later telling my fiance, that when we had kids, things would be different. Yes, not only were the first seeds of mommy judgment planted that day, they germinated alongside the hearty flora and fauna of Futurous Maternalous Planneous. It's a bitch of a plant.
We would raise cerebral children. Our kids would be precociously verbal, either because of genetics or our diligence, or both. Our children wouldn't watch television, unless it was a video to supplement their sign-language, or Russian, or European history facts.
We would not bribe our children, or yell; reasoning and calm would prevail. The family dinner table would be laden with several healthy, lovingly prepared options that our future Rhodes Scholars would devour without complaint. We would giggle over one of the children's observations that the jicama salad resembled the profile of Mao Tse Tung. Bob and I would hold hands while we listened to our children stumble over their first pronunciation of denouement. After dessert of fresh berries, picked from the garden planted earlier in the year with the children, we would read aloud from the Classics.
I would excuse myself after dinner to read in my favorite chair, as the housekeeper finished the dinner dishes (our trilingual PhD candidate housekeeper who taught our children Mendel's genetics through the pea plants in the aforementioned garden) and the sounds of the viola, piano and cello would waft through the house. I would note the time each night, after losing myself uninterrupted in yet another novel, and quietly announce that the children needed to be in bed. Somehow, they would hear me, and they would all put their instruments away, brush their teeth, say prayers thanking God for their amazing lives, and wait to be kissed goodnight.
Yes, I was certain in my abilities that not only would I do it all right, but that when my friend did it wrong, it was simply a matter of course correction. Judgment? Meet blind optimism and her date stupidity.
Tonight was a stream of consciousness bickerfest between the older three that ended with me telling the girls that everytime they argued, shouted, or used harsh words, their baby brother's brain stopped growing (I was serious). So when my daughter
He did. After helping her for a protracted amount of time, wherein I heard the muffled cries of distress over fractions, he emerged from her bedroom. He silently went into the kitchen and took a fork out of the drawer. He walked over to me and handed me the utensil.
"Please. Just stab me in the eye."
I think we have some weeds in the garden.