Sunday, August 19, 2012

Before the Dawn

I bet you’re thinking this is a blog about kids keeping you up all night. Or possibly an epic gush from a total Twihard.


Actually, I’m going with that old saying about how it’s always darkest before the dawn. (It is—sleep outside sometime. I don’t know why, but it is.) And, yes, I’m writing this the day before school starts. Hint, hint.

I adore my children. We have a blast together these days. They’re a riot. No, literally, they’re a riot. By the time they’ve been awake for a couple of hours, I’m in the body armor with the riot shield, wishing I had fire hoses behind me to wash the litter into the gutters, just like midnight at Mardi Gras.

I try to take comfort in that fact that their energy, persistence, and ingenuity mean they will run the world someday. Right now, they’re just running me over. I look like Kevin Bacon at the end of Animal House—the part in the sidewalk. Remain calm. All is well. ALL IS WELL!

That would be one type of dark, and school would be its dawn. So, yes, I will be cheering as they start the new school year tomorrow. I have so much more energy to mother them when they go away for part of the day!

The other type of dark? (You knew that was coming.) That would be those lovely “phases” all kids go through. You know what I mean. You start to think, If that kid does that ONE. MORE. TIME. I will pull a Gauguin and move to Tahiti to paint natives! Or something to that effect.

This summer has vanished into the dark pre-dawn of several phases that I cannot wait to see the back of.

S. has become Apathy Girl. She goes around like a three-toed sloth sleepwalking, refuses to let herself smile, and answers everything I say with, “oh.”

Notice how I didn’t capitalize that? See, capitalizing would involve energy, commitment, putting something of yourself into the monosyllable. That’s not what Apathy Girl is all about.

Yet the winds of back-to-school are already sweeping through her doldrums. She’s been recently heard to say, “I can’t wait for tomorrow!” and “I love my classroom!” I have a feeling she won’t have room in her calendar for Apathy Girl much longer….

Then there’s The Demon Boy of Sarasota. A summer of…shall we say, expressing his emotions strongly culminated in a giant destructive spree a few days ago. He disassembled his room on Thursday, a mere eighteen hours before his Meet the Teacher gig on Friday. So Big A. and I moved all his toys to bins in the garage, firmly letting Little A. know that he could earn them back by taking care of his remaining possessions. Then I went to the back-to-school parent meeting and sat in the hard seat, half listening, trying not to cry. That was dark.

The next morning, Little A. cheerfully sprang from bed, got dressed, and ate breakfast. He happily got in the car to go to school, played nicely with all the toys there, spoke nicely to his teacher, and played nicely with his friend…until he started to tear up the racetrack they’d been building.

My heart froze. His friend asked if he would stop doing that. Little A. said, “Sorry!” and cheerfully put it back!

Angels sang, birds chirped, and bunnies frolicked. That was the dawn!

Honestly, he made it just fine through his sister’s Meet the Teacher afterward, and has had maybe one incident in three days. I believe in the healing power of school!

I also believe these phases end two seconds before they kill they parents. It’s an evolutionary thing—it has to be.


  1. You made my day with this post, not only because kids do give us the dark before the dawn, but also because you made my smiley/laughing thoughts for the day(you're going to laugh, Rosanne,) -Animal House- IS my all-time FAVORITE movie!! I can totally hear Kevin Bacon saying, "Remain calm," in my head, but even better, I hear the Blutarsky "sneaks" in his black sweatsuit across the green lawn. Classic!

  2. Wow--I grew up watching Animal House! It was a family activity, lol! We will have to get together to view this classic someday. :-)