It really bothers my children to see me sit on the sofa.
This may be because for many years, I did not have any opportunity to sit down. I kept us so busy that we were rarely home, in part because I was a little afraid to be alone with all of these kids, who might want me to play Candyland. I hate Candyland.
And then when we were home, it was all very active. We were baking! We were putting things together! Puzzles, legos, crafts! Or I was making dinner or doing laundry or emptying the dishwasher or emptying the dishwasher or emptying the dishwasher. (I have to do that a lot. It bears repeating.) At night I shoveled them into bed and collapsed. It is no wonder that I felt a little bit fraught most of the time.
Things have calmed down. I have calmed down. They are less truly needy and far more capable of entertaining themselves and getting their own snacks and even, on occasion, empty the dishwasher.
But several of them don’t want to.
And if I sit down on the sofa in an attempt to do something for myself–read a magazine or a book, for example–they gather.
Wyatt tends to try to sit on me of at least next to me. Rory, who doesn’t like it when I tell her NOT to sit on my (as I do Wyatt) takes up a spot I can’t legitimately object to: directly under the feet I’ve propped up on the coffee table, usually clutching the dog, who likes to lie there as well. Lily is both more and less subtle, taking a spot nearby at the dinner table or counter.
And then it begins.
Can I have a snack? If you get it yourself. But I want milk (our milk comes in heavy glass bottles that Wyatt and Rory have trouble pouring from). No, have some water. I want a Rice Krispie treat. Will you cut me a Rice Krispie Treat? No, not right now. Will you read with me? No. Mommy, come help me with this math problem in this workbook I got out. Geez, ok, bring in here.
Ooh–one of them got a wedge in. Now the assault goes full frontal. Everyone gets a workbook and wants help. Quickly, I refuse to do any workbooks, so they return to the snack. Can I have an apple? Yes. Can you cut if for me? No. Ok, then I will cut it. No you won’t. But it’s an apple! I want an apple!
And so on. Note the way they pick things they think I will go for–things a good mother should go for. Reading, workbooks, apples, not toys or crunchy snacks. Certainly not Candyland. They’re not fools.
Eventually they get me every time. They wear me down. Their requests are so reasonable, so repetitive. I manage for so long–of course I deserve time to myself! I should be able to read the New Yorker or the NYT Magazine on the rare slow afternoon–but maybe even I’m not fully convinced.