downs

My husband ran into the auto parts store to grab a few quarts of oil the other day, and I was left in the truck with my children. 

The thing about being stuck in the truck with my children that makes it particularly miserable is that they are all packed in the backseat like eggs — all sitting tidily in their compartment, but entirely too close. The slightest bobble causes one of them to crack and ooze out all over the kid next to them. Before you know it, total anarchy ensues.

So, I mostly checked out. Mutiny was inevitable — I thought I might as well save myself. Minutes later, my husband plopped back in the truck, shocked by the shrill sounds echoing out of the backseat. He looked questioningly at me. He knows better than to actually ask the question, but it was written all over his face: “What in the world is going on? Why didn’t you stop it?” 

He got a detached grin in return. “The crazy train was leaving the station. I didn’t buy a ticket. I’ll see them when they all return,” I told him.

He attempted an intervention. I scoffed. They’ll work it out. 

But I still looked back to see what was happening. Our 4-year-old had our 6-year-old by the collar of his shirt, teeth bared, eyes fierce, fists clenched. As he caught my gaze, the look of ferocious anger that had gripped him suddenly morphed into a slow, mischievous grin. He was fully conscious of his decision to torment his older brother, and he was loving every minute of it. 

I began laughing maniacally in the front seat, tears rolling down my face. Officially convinced that I had lost my mind, my husband finally mustered up the courage to ask “What is happening?”

You see, dear husband, I have developed an immunity to this kind of insanity. When you live all day, every day surrounded by three hooligans, you simply cannot get sucked into that tornado all the time. You must disengage and escape before they get too close to you. If you wait it out long enough, the storm will pass. It either loses energy and dissipates, or it annihilates everything in its path and someone ends up stuck in a tree. Either way, it ends.

Sure, there are other mothers — arguably better mothers — who intervene and settle the tension. I prefer the “you’re-capable-of-solving-your-own problems method.” 

How will this method pan out, you ask? Hopefully it ends with my brain still fully intact in 17 years, and with my children being capable of conjuring up resolutions in the heat of their emotions. Either way, I’m checking out.

See you when you get back to the station, kids.