It’s around 4:00 p.m. at my house when the mayhem begins. My two sons, one in first grade and one in kindergarten, come barreling in from school at this time.
They are full of pent-up energy and emotion from a long day of trying to sit still, follow rules, be quiet and pay attention. Sure, they have a few ‘breaks’ throughout the day to dance, run around the gymnasium for PE class, or have a quick romp on the playground for recess (which, in my opinion, is far too short and gets canceled far too often). But for my 7- and 5-year old boys, that’s just not enough activity for their overly energetic bodies. The result is they bring it all home with them, practically bursting at the seams to act like the crazy, silly little boys they naturally are.
So, when this mayhem arrives, I try to quarantine it as best I can by sending them outside to run and play. If it’s cold, I bundle them up. If it’s raining, they put on rain jackets and boots. If it’s hot I send bottles of water with them. Out they go! As luck would have it, their outside excursions almost always end with someone coming in crying. The other day, the episode was especially dramatic as my oldest son came in with his face, hands and shirt literally covered in blood. I almost had a heart attack until I realized he was just having a major nose bleed from his brother accidentally hitting him in the face with a basketball.
Then the mayhem is inside the house—my sweet, peaceful house, in which I’ve spent most of my afternoon doing laundry, straightening, cooking, feeding and playing with my baby, and just enjoying the calm. But now the mayhem is here. It’s loud. It’s destructive. It’s making the baby look at me as if to say, “who let them in anyway?”
This is also around the time that I’m trying to prepare dinner while holding a cranky, fussy baby because it’s that glorious ‘witching hour’ for her. I try to get the boys to start on their homework but I’m now yelling just to be heard over whatever loud activity they’ve decided to do, like shooting nerf guns on rapid fire, wrestling on the living room floor, or making random objects into instruments. It starts to feel like a three-ring circus as I’m constantly shooing them out of the kitchen where they’re kicking a ball around the counter or chasing each other during a game of tag.
Somehow, miraculously, I get them to sit still long enough to do their homework. But now I’m fielding questions like “How do you spell dinosaur feces?” or “Does my teacher ever go to the potty? I’ve never seen her go to the potty!” The baby’s cries are starting to reach decibels that the neighbors’ dogs can hear, or she’s screeching the loud song of her people that I wish I could say is enjoyable but is just adding to the nerve-racking mayhem.
Finally, dinner is on the table, the baby is either down for a nap or suddenly happy and calm in Daddy’s arms. The house seems oddly quiet as we all start to eat. It lasts for about thirty seconds before someone is kicking someone else under the table, asking for a drink, or complaining about vegetables. I can’t help but smile though, and know that this mayhem is my mayhem, and I wouldn’t trade it for all the peaceful quiet in the world!
Mandy Watts is a stay-at-home mom who lives in Crownsville with her husband, Justin, who runs their family business, has two sons, and baby daughter.