I decided earlier this week that I wanted to make a concerted effort to increase the pleasantness, if that's a word, of our family's time post-school and pre-dinner. I pick the girls up around 3:00-ish and try to have dinner ready about 5:00-ish. That 2 1/2 hour stretch seems to send the day down in glorious flames.
The problem with this "witching hour" is that the girls and I are all tired. Iris is super, super cranky after school. Eloise, if she has been at school that day, is prone to weepiness and tantrums, and me? Well, I'm trying my darndest to clean up from the day's activities, get some snacks out, make dinner, take a moment or two to connect with the girls and maybe sneak in a bit of my own down time if I've had a particularly busy day of my own.
Sadly, it usually ends up in a crying, screaming, messy mess. Today, I think, was the crowning jewel of such experiences.
In our house, Wednesday is allowance day. We just started allowance recently for a couple of reasons. One was so that the girls had a set amount of money to spend each week therefor allowing me to fall back on "well, do you have any allowance left?" when I'm asked for the eight millionth time for X,Y or Z. This is much easier than arguing, bargaining, threatening or laying on the sad stories of mommy and daddy's money shortages. The other reason we did it was that kids need to start learning how to handle their own money at some point and I was recently told that a good time to start it was when they can be reasonably trusted to not actually swallow the money they are given.
I could write more about the whole allowance thing, but that's not where I'm going with this.
After school we drove over to Target so the girls could spend their allowance. They are still firmly in the "I must spend every penny of my allowance RIGHTTHISSECOND" phase of earning an allowance. Iris did amazing. She even walked an aisle or two away from me to browse-- if you know how riddled with separation anxiety my kid is, you'd be amazed-- while Eloise picked up every expensive toy at her eye-level and proclaimed she was getting it.
I started saying "that's three allowances, that's four allowances" to let her know that she didn't have that much to spend. I took the options in her price range down off higher shelves to show her what she could buy. Things were progressing with Miss Eloise, she was growing hysterical that she couldn't afford any of the myriad of items she proclaimed to not be able to live without. She eventually grabbed an expensive gaming device and threw it down the toy aisle. It skidded half the way before coming to a stop in the middle of a main aisle of the store. I walked off to grab the toy and when I turned around Eloise had taken off running.
Luckily Iris and I were able to corner Eloise in an aisle and I grabbed her and picked her up. I stayed nice and calm and let her know we wouldn't be spending her allowance today and we were leaving. Iris had picked out her stuff and so we had to go through the check-out for her. Eloise screamed as if she were being stabbed by a pile of hot pokers. As we made our way towards the front we passed several familiar faces from the girls' school. Always nice to have an audience of people you know in those situations.
When we got back to the car I started to get the girls in to their car seats. For a moment I was all puffed up and proud of myself for remaining calm in the store. Then I noticed it. My dog, the sweetest sassiest fuzzy black thing this side of the Mississippi, had eaten a whole bag of chocolate chips while we were in the store. I had picked them up for some baking on my way to get the girls from school and had them in my grocery bag.
This would be the point that I completely fucking freaked out. I was scared about how sick the dog could be. I was pissed at myself for leaving food in the car (though I have left the dog in the car with many, many bags of groceries and she has NEVER even touched them) and I was seething with rage at my stupid idiot of a dog for doing this.
I called the vet on the way home. They said "go to the ER NOW." I panicked and said, well, I have two small kids with me and I don't know how quickly I can get her there. The vet said to give the dog some hydrogen peroxide to make her vomit, then go to the ER. I got home. Called my mom. In addition to being my mom, which means she automatically knows everything about everything, she is a dog-lover. She said, child, get off the phone, go give the dog some hydrogen peroxide, then call me back. So I gave the stuff to the dog. Then I called my husband totally hysterical. Then he called another vet for me closer to where our new house is. I called mom back. Then husband. The dog pukes a bunch. Then I call new vet that husband found. And what do THEY tell me? That I could bring the dog in but all they would do was make her puke anyways and I had already done that. It turns out that even though the dog ate 2/3 lb of milk chocolate it wasn't enough to be considered serious.
There were a few lessons I learned from this afternoon:
1. I need a new plan of action with Eloise and stores.
2. Will not leave food in the car with the dog. Also related: dog's crate came out of storage to keep her in it when we're not home since she's been stealing food from the counters and even out of the sink/garbage/recycling bin when we're not home.
What lesson am I still struggling with? How, in the face of all of the crazy insanity madness, do I keep my cool. I don't know the answer to that yet. I feel like I'm working on it. Every single day I work on it. I am getting better at it in some ways, but in many ways not at all. It's my parenting hurdle at this point.
Tomorrow is a new day, though. It's another chance. I'll keep working at it.