(This made more sense when I still had a preschooler.)

The Chaos Interval

Partial aftermath of a chaos window (sometimes this surface is used for eating).

This post is dedicated to all of us who struggle to maintain domestic control.  Or even a remote domestic semblance of order.  For those of us who have “only” 1 or 2 average-abled children, those of us who may or may not juggle work with home, those of us who feel as though we “shouldn’t” struggle, but do.

I try hard to look on the glass as half full, and to consider the silver lining in times of trouble.  I try to not look upon groupings of time as “bad” altogether, as in “bad day” or “bad year”.  Once I find myself labeling things as such, my mind tries to fit new experiences into those files.  That leads to unhealthy thinking, like in high school when I tried to convince people I was Native American and my real name was “Chief Heap Big Black Cloud.”

But sometimes there is no denying certain intervals of time that are completely cursed.  Is there a full moon?  Maybe.  Record solar flares?  Probably.  Solar eclipse of the heart?  A traveling vortex of electromagnetic black hole galaxies?  Martians converging on a cornfield community of sasquatches with garden gnome pets?  Yes yes yes yes yes yes and yes.  I call this phenomenon the “chaos interval.”

Partial aftermath of a chaos window (sometimes this surface is used for eating).

Partial aftermath of a chaos window (sometimes this surface is used for eating).

Because whatever you do, no matter how hard you try, ALL FAILS in the interval of chaos.  This interval will come abruptly and leave abruptly.  In the middle awaits all sorts of awful surprises.  And a hoarse voice for you, because as all your efforts are thwarted you begin to shout “HOW THE HELL IS THIS POSSIBLE?” over and over and over and over and over and over and over.

I saw a possible full moon tonight (I dunno, it looked mostly full circle-ish but how does a civilian really tell?) and that might explain the 48-hour chaos interval that preceded it.  Here are some of the highlights:

  • Boychild, potty trained nearly a year ago, is now struggling with some of his bodily processes.  Of course I will spare specifics.  But his coping strategy involves sitting on the toilet whilst his undies are still on, and then when we come to check on him, rapidly trying to make it look like the undies have not been on.  This is a new development.  Like last 48 hours.  No coincidence.
  • Boychild has also turned into a whiny mess who demands all sorts of things.  I’m in the other end of the house this morning (oh, yes, I should say wing, dahling) when I hear, “Mah…mah?  Mah…mah?”  “What?” I scream nicely.  “Can you sit by me?”  he asks.  To which I respond that I have already finished breakfast….?  The other morning he decided I needed to carry him downstairs.  I refused since I was making breakfast, and oh yeah, he is almost 4 and this constant carrying is kinda wearing on my spine. He wound up 2 steps from the bottom of the staircase, still crying about it.  Two. Steps.  He went full tantrum on me, and the tantrum lasted so long that only 5 minutes remained for his eating of breakfast.  Then that led to his griping about that too.  And a lack of a full breakfast.  Which led to his whining in the car on the way to school about wanting a Starbucks treat.  “Mama?  Think I would weally wike one of doze banana breads.”  When he hears no, I get to hear him yell about that.  Boychild has basically been in a constant cycle of whine and tantrum and denial of natural consequences, and my blood pressure just stays high all the time.  I can only hope that means I’m burning extra calories since I haven’t had any time to exercise.
  • Boychild did have a potty success (yay!  Insert Toyota jump!), followed by an inexplicable accident which he tried to conceal by putting the toddler bathroom stool on top of.  Stool on stool, if you will.  And how did I discover this?  Well, on the positive side (see?!), my sinuses are remarkably clear lately, and I smelled something not so fresh as I was reading to him before his nap.  He owned up to the mess in the bathroom, but I found poo on his foot and in his sheets that he was also going to try to pass off, I guess.  So that afternoon “free time window” of one hour (3x per week), from when he starts his nap and when Girlchild is carpooled home, was spent sanitizing and laundering various items and body parts.
  • Got rid of that poo smell, and then Dogchild was in a state of farts.
  • Girlchild arrived home from school, and oh!  my child who is never in trouble was “in red” today, for at least 3 choices she should have handled better, including trying to mess up her teacher’s book.  ????  Girlchild is a rule follower and tattle expert.  She doesn’t get in trouble.  Total Body Snatchers here, peeps.
  • Meanwhile Boychild awoke from his nap, took one look at dinner on the table, and kept on walking.  (Note:  Family members in this house who refuse dinner are left to go hungry.  Which makes them even crabbier in the morning.  Such an awesome and successful strategy I have.)
  • Then I went in the master bath and smelled something else foul.  I would call this point in time the center of the chaos interval storm because it’s at these moments that I personally step up the efforts at control.  Determination is at its peak at this point.  Since I knew no one had yet bombed the master bath, I determined that the smell was coming from the shower trap thing-y (yes, I’m quite the handywoman ‘round here sometimes and I’m GREAT at describing things).  It collects some type of stinky black mold-ish slime over time and the only way to make our bathroom stop stinking like something died is to brave a hand down the PVC pipe with a sponge and some scouring powder.  And guess whose adult hand fits best for this job.  And who braves the task without disposable gloves, then gags.
  • I had cleaned out the slime with determination and turned on the shower at its hottest to continue to wash all evil away, when I heard the repetitive slamming of a door.  Nice, kids.
  • Before I could investigate/intervene, then followed the blood-curdling screams of Girlchild, who’d just used the other facilities and saw the toilet waters rising close to overflow status.  I tell you that the hand of God must have intervened with the workings of that toilet, because as I ran into the other bathroom the plumbing workings had stopped in the commode.  (See?  Silver lining.)  I handled yet another bad-smelling incident.
  • Meanwhile, Boychild was hiding somewhere and not responding to requests to be found (his new favorite trick), the washing machine was playing that crazy Samsung song that I’d insisted when I first heard it was the South Korean anthem, intended to brainwash me in some way until I googled it and discovered that “people” say it’s Franz Schubert’s “The Trout”.  [Side note:  RANDOM.  I’m no music major, but what does a happy annoying washer end song have to do with a trout?  Do trouts like swimming in soap circles rapidly and getting the water spun outta them?  Whatevs, trouts.  I’m totes gonna make a washer, that upon ending its cycle plays Ratt’s “Round and Round”.  Or “You Spin Me Right Round” by Dead or Alive.  Or maybe some song from a more recent decade.  Or maybe just forget this washer project entirely, it’s not really my thing.*]  The home phone was ringing, Dogchild was whining about something nutty like a loud sneeze or the sound of cans (because he’s crazy), etc. etc.  Did I mention that the chaos interval ALWAYS includes enough noise to make you think of those old Calgon commercials?
  • At 5pm I went for the bourbon.  Guess what?  The Blanton’s was near empty.
  • I declared a state of sanity emergency, which involves instatement of earlier bedtimes.  Girlchild was exhausted and seemed to fall asleep easily.  Boychild, on the other hand, wouldn’t let me escape easily without the four-fold bedtime requirements he’s invented and subtly written into law.  It began weeks ago as innocent sweet requests, but now he cries if we don’t: 1) Tell him a “fake story”, 2) Tell him a “real story” about when we were little kids, 3) Scratch his back and 4) Cuddle with him, but on the pillow next to him, not on his! He is adamant about this pillow rule, dammit!  He’s become some bedtime Nazi.  I left him crying.
  • I went downstairs to vent about my day to Manchild, now home in the last hour or so.  I used lots of cursin’ words (and for those who have a problem with that, you need to know that CURSING IS A RELEASE, PEOPLE, and generally causes no harm as opposed to other vices such as cigarettes, drugs, gambling, dog fight organizing, cross-fit training, alligator wrestling, etc.).  This went on for some time.  Girlchild came downstairs, stealthily and creepily, with a smirk on her face telling us that this completely random sore on her neck (alien probe site?  DUH) really hurts and needs medicine.  How much of my sailor mouth did she hear?  I’m sure I’ll find out when she’s “in red” tomorrow for new reasons.

And this is how it goes.  Does anything REALLY get completed in a chaos interval?  NO.  I have laundry all over the house right now, some clean, some not, some probably poo filled in some way.  I have a half-made lunch for Girlchild sitting in our fridge.  I have a mess of random papers all over the kitchen counters AND our family desk:  receipts, school paperwork, 7 different to-do lists, drafts of things I’ve written, a pile of birthday invitation envelopes that I bought in a dark color and have no pen that will show up on them.  I have a fridge with enough food for about 2 days, and a pantry filled with junk that Boychild made me buy at the store last week.  I have a near-filled DVR.  I have a husband who is already asleep.  And now I have a half-ass blog post, after a near 3 month hiatus on my site BECAUSE THE LAST 3 MONTHS HAVE BEEN BACK-TO-BACK CHAOS INTERVALS.

But it’s okay.  That doesn’t make it a bad quarter, nor a series of bad months, even.  This glass if half full, even if it’s not with Blanton’s.  Things will come around, most likely, hopefully in the next 15 years or so.

*Okay, back to this washer idea.  My sanitize cycle would also have a soundtrack, a cover of Beastie Boys’ “Sabotage”, as in “Listen all y’all, IT’S A SANITIIIIIZE!” Admit it, you’d want to sanitize everything and then pump your fist in the air at the end.

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5 Responses to “The Chaos Interval”

  1. lobestir

    Ohhhhh. So nice to have the right term for those particularly trying times. Thanks for this! P.S. I’d just settle for the washer to play Beastie Boys straight up. Anything to make those unending, thankless chores more satisfying.

    Reply
  2. John Hric

    The other ‘wing’ of the house ! ? ! I guess that would explain why our house landed oh so un-gracefully in somewhere other than Oz ! Now where is my recovery notebook… oh yes I see a page over there next to the scarecrow’s lump of straw. TOTO !

    Reply
      • John Hric

        No worry – It was a pure humor response. Like your blog. Thanks ! oh my – I just understood that puny answer. VS would never put up with that sort of thing 8P Are they teaching that in preschool now ? Oh my oh my 8P

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