Apparently my dad used to call the late-afternoon/early-evening the "arsenic hours."
I don't know if it's something he came up with himself, if he learned from friends, or heard from his own parents. I just recently learned it from my older sister who started her family years before I did, so her kids were still young while Dad was alive, and I think he must have mentioned it to her during those "early years."
Well, we're smack in the early years now with K&L, and while I wouldn't trade them for anything, there are definitely nights.... Last night was one of them.
M is working late this week, so I was on my own. And that always adds layers of depth/complication to any experience with the girls.
In addition, K&L got new lunch boxes yesterday. K has been wanting one because the older kids in her class have them (the kids that stay the full day at school). And so , of course, did L, though she doesn't really have any notion at all of what the hell a lunch bag/box is for.
Yesterday, after dropping K off at school, M took L to Target where they found some lunch bags and L walked around the store with hers, refusing to let go of it.
When I got home the girls were both busy packing/unpacking/zipping/unzipping their bags. They had containers of pita chips and cereal, water bottles, pacifiers, an occasional piggie (#2 of the 3 pigs, for anyone paying attention), and anything else they could fit in. All was well with the world, everyone happy.
Now and then I was needed to help with a stubborn zipper or to rearrange contents to allow for closing. But mostly my purpose was to admire (K: "Daddy, this monkey on my lunch bag." "I know!" L: "Thith monkey!" K: "Actually, it turtle." "Actually K, it's a froggie." L: "It foggie.") and the afternoon went smoothly. Curious George video, soup for dinner, some thunder (K: "Storm coming?" "Maybe!" K: "K no like thunder." "Really? Why? Isn't it fun?" K: "You like thunder? Why like thunder?" "Because we're in here all cozy and cuddled up." K: "Maybe storm come!" L: "Thtom come!"), heavy rain, bath time, more heavy raining, then upstairs to brush teeth and hear stories.
The happiness leaks away:
We settled into our big bed with toothbrushes and books and lunch bags.
Complication: both girls wanted laptime.
Solution: L on one thigh, K on the other. Precarious but workable.
We started with Spot's First Christmas (K's choice), then moved on to Go Dog Go (L's choice). Partway through that K said that the bed was wet. "Feel!"
I felt. Damp. From the water bottle in her lunch bag (which she had with her, had had with her since I'd gotten home. Would have had even in the bathtub if I hadn't I refused to allow that). I told her the water bottle was leaking and that it had to come out.
She needed it. She might get thirsty. It had to be in there! I was tired, ready for bed myself but facing a dirty kitchen before I could crawl into bed. I put my foot down, said "It has to come out," and pulled it out. (I pulled out L's bottle too, though it wasn't causing any problems because she was much less figety with her bag.)
Crying and screaming. Screaming and crying. Rain lashing the roof (this wasn't connected in any way to the water bottle, at least not that I'm aware of, but it provided some nice "white noise" cover for our goings-on). I told K that she could listen to the rest of Go Dog Go if she wanted, or she could head to bed. But I was not going to allow the water bottle in her bag. Crying! Screaming!! L and I finished up the book with some distraction (it's a little hard to concentrate if your older sister is howling just across the lap from where you're sitting).
I finally finish up L's book and carry her out to her crib. She seems tired and ready for bed, but K is still kicking up such a fuss that L can't settle down. Finally get L into bed, K crawls up in her own bed, sniffling and whining and sometimes crying loudly until I say "I'll take your lunch bag away if you don't quiet down," and that settles her a bit. (ha!)
Now L stands up and wants to get "outoutout!" and I lay her back into her bed and she twists and struggles and K starts crying again about needing water and how she needs to have her bottle in her lunch bag. I lay L out again, said "good night" and left.
(30 seconds) Later, downstairs:
L is crying loudly now.
K is yelling too.
I go back upstairs and, after asking K if I should hold L, get L and sit with and sing.
K:"K can't sleep."
me: "Then lie quietly."
K: "K can't lie quietly."
(L is by now snuggling into my chest, calming down and wiping her nose on my sweatshirt.)
K: "K can't lie QUIETLY." Making her point nicely.
me: "Do you want me to take your lunch bag away?" Making my own counter-point. "You can lie quietly or go downstairs to lie on the couch. Quietly. I'm trying to get L to sleep!"
Finally get L into her crib, tuck her tightly with blankets (did I mention it's, like, winter here now? -30 or so degrees, miserable, reminding me that I don't like to be cold?).
K: "K can't sleep."
me: "K, you have 2 choices -- you can lie quietly up here, or lie quietly downstairs on the couch."
K: "Lie downstairs on couch."
I pick her up along with Sammy-the-doll and her lunch bag, and we beat a retreat out of the room before L kicks up another fuss.
K lays on the couch where I put her with a kiss, rattling her pacifiers for 30 or 40 minutes while I do the dinner dishes. She falls asleep at some point while I'm cleaning. I don't have another word with her. L is out and stayed out all night.
Luckily I'm too tired to look for my arsenic.
(But this begs the question: are the arsenic hours that time when you want to take arsenic? or when you want to give it to someone else? or both?