Wednesday, February 06, 2008

the silence of the Drunken Housewife

Yesterday was my day to work at Lola's pre-k. Oh, the joys of that liberal institution, the parent co-operative preschool. It's my sixth consecutive year of working at the co-op, and I'm ready to be done. (That feeling of counting-it-down and burn-out is mixed with plenty of guilt over not being as enthusiastic and involved for Lola, the way I was years ago for her big sister).

For a while, I supervised a group of twelve pre-k children playing freeze tag, which involved non-stop screaming (I am informed this was audible two blocks away). It was a beautiful day for once, and I am a firm believer that small children need to have the chance to tear around like radioactive mutants, and so I had to live up to my lofty parental ideals by standing in the midst of that hellish racket.

As if the freeze tag weren't enough, a number of the children cried at maximum volume. One fell down and hurt her hand (there was no visible injury, but she turned the volume on her crying up to 11). I rubbed her back and offered sympathy while she screamed a few inches from my ear. Another screamed in rage and frustration. A charismatic alpha child, this young boy was angry that the children wouldn't stop playing freeze tag to hear out his instructions on what they should be doing instead. I tried to explain to him that it's a lofty undertaking indeed to get twelve hyperactive five year-olds to shut up at once and listen, but discussion was fruitless. It was somewhat more helpful for me to sit in the dirt beside him and listen to him shouting, between noisy sobs and screams, about "they won't listen to me!"

Later we trudged on a long dreary field trip, and some of the little children were heightening their enjoyment of a rousing round of "red light, green light" by grabbing my aged rump on the "green light" command. "My butt is a private place! Personal and private!" I instructed the tiny miscreants.

By the time we got home, all I wanted was some peace and quiet. I wanted to finish my book ("Surveillance" by Jonathan Raban). Instead, Lola got upset (she often doesn't want to get out of the new-to-us Volvo and drags her feet, and Iris and I don't want to stand on the sidewalk waiting forever, a perennial conflict). She screamed her guts out for over half an hour. I was practically rabid.

The Sober Husband came home, and I instructed him to please talk as little as possible and not ask me what was wrong with Lola because NOTHING was wrong with Lola, Lola was FINE, and if I couldn't get some peace and quiet I was going to snap. A clever man, he shut up and fixed me a cocktail (a Blood and Sand, my current fave, popular back in the 1930's and perhaps the best use of the unduly obscure Cherry Heering spirit). After I'd had my drink and played a little Warcraft to unwind (and I turned the sound off on the computer for that, even though it makes it harder to play), I felt up to observing Super Tuesday by casting my vote for Barack Obama. The children got into a fight on the way back from the polls, meaning more noisy crying from Lola, which tends to echo around in a Volvo in an unbearable way.

At home, the Sober Husband put on a Klezmer CD he'd dredged up somewhere from the depths of hell, and he turned it up so loud that he allegedly couldn't hear my multiple screams of "CAN YOU TURN THAT DOWN NOW" which eventually became something more like "FOR THE LOVE OF GOD CAN YOU TURN THAT FUCKING NOISE DOWN." To me, that music is like the soundtrack for demented clowns, evil, evil clowns, and I fully expect that it will play in my damned afterlife. I fled upstairs with "Surveillance" and closed the door to the bedroom. Before I knew it, children were there, wanting to "watch Simpsons with Mama" (why do I have to be present for this? Evidently it's not satisfying to watch TV, if you don't have the captive corpse of poor old Mommy present in the room. The children fight viciously over who sits next to me, and oddly enough, it's unsatisfactory to everyone if I sit in the middle with one on each side. If there's no clear winner, then everyone is a loser). After Iris was banished to bed, Lola wanted to act out a story about a banal fairy who wanted to get married, which normally is very charming but by ten o'clock at night after a hard day was driving me crazy. By the time she went to bed, I was too sleepy to read. A silent room with a book: that was all I wanted, and I couldn't get it.

Fear not, gentle reader, for the sanity of your Drunken Housewife, as chronic insomnia has solved her problem. I've just enjoyed two consecutive hours of quiet, broken only by the raucous purrs and meows of the annoying cats. Silence. Beautiful silence. I was able to give "Surveillance" the quiet attention it so much deserved. The only sad part is that I know I'll pay for this idyll tomorrow, when I'm severely sleep-deprived, but oh God, the quiet is so beautiful. I wouldn't mind adding a few sounds to it, such as perhaps the happy sound of a klezmer CD snapping in half, but eh, I'll take what I can get.


Anonymous said...

a) what's the blood and sand recipe?


b) I've been there, baby!


c) i heard they recently did a study in which they autopsied women who died of heart attacks and found they could easily see hearing damage in the tiny bones of the women who were dead from heart disease more so women who had died of other causes. leading them to conclude that loud noise is INDEED very stressful.

Anonymous said...

I want the Blood and Sand recipe too!

(and... this is EXACTLY why I do not want to camp too close to the folks with young kids... I feel like such and OGRE for simply wanting to sleep without hearing crying!)

Love you - can't wait to see you!

Epiphany said...

Thanks for the reminder, once again, of why I chose not to breed!

Chris is especially sensitive to loud voices, and frequently gets upset and moves away when I raise my voice. He would probably last about two days if we had a baby, and then would disappear into the night....

hughman said...

i'm exhausted just reading this post.

Unknown said...

I read "Red Mars" (Kim Stanley Robinson) and "Green Mars" by staying up way too late over the holidays while visiting my father and me ole Carolina stomping grounds. 3 AM one night, 1 AM the second. I finished Red that first night, thankfully, or I'd have been up longer.

Yes, the hours after bedtime are precious, especially for Mrs. Thiroy who watches two Hellians after school, and is too candyassed (and you know it, dear) to give a Quit date.

JKG said...

I second Hughman--I barely finished reading it, such was your success in imparting your agony.

"If there's no clear winner, then everyone is a loser."

The first, enduring lesson of capitalism in America. You g-d socialist, you!

2amsomewhere said...

I've been there with respect to minding crowds of rowdy kids. I feel your pain.

Being able to enjoy a rousing chorus of "Pirate Girls Nine" by They Might Be Giants with my kids makes it all worthwhile.


Anonymous said...

thank you for the daily dose of birth control. just when i think i'm ready, you slap me across the face. appreciate it!

hokgardner said...

I'm guaranteed to get a migraine every time I work my co-op day at Lily's preschool. I'm hanging in there by reminding myself that this is Lily's last year in co-op and it will be another two years before Campbell switches from the mother's day out program to the co-op one. I'll have two years where I won't HAVE to be in a room filled with preschoolers one morning every other week. Yay!

I don't know how the teachers do it.

Amy said...

Reading about the constant screaming reminds me why I roll my eyes when anyone forwards me one of those those sappy passages on the bliss of childhood. One in particular about "resigning as an adult" comes to mind. Kids spend about as much time being miserable as everybody else does.

Except maybe whoever has to listen to them screaming :O)

Anonymous said...

where's that drink recipe!

Anonymous said...

around here we call that cocktail 'two things you dont want to find in your underwear'

Love Bites said...

This post made me laugh out loud at least ten times. You so rock. Just in case no one has told you that lately, you really, really do.

Love Bites said...

By the way, this is precisely why we enforced a strict 9 p.m. bedtime with both of my kids when they were Iris/Lola's age. Not for their sakes, but for my own damn sanity. I NEEDED that quiet hour with a book between 9 and 10 p.m. before I fell asleep and the lovely routine started all over again at 6 a.m.

Anonymous said...

Good to know.