I ought to go in there. I really ought to.
I mean, it’s my house. And 9 times out of 10, I bound up the steps. That tenth time, though. Boy. That tenth time, I’ve had a bad day, and dealing with my kids just might put me over the edge. Times like that, I just can’t go inside.
In the house, Tom’s likely wrestling both boys towards bedtime. He’s prying lips back from two sets of clenched up teeth, and trying to touch toothbrushes to tooth surfaces. He’s suggesting to Finn that the wiping of the ass might be more effective if the paper goes between the butt cheeks. He’s trying to convince Tate to crap in the toilet now, instead of later in his pull-up, when it will be unspeakably disgusting for all involved.
In the bath, there will be water, sloshing all over. Tate will want to take Thomas the Train and his friend Percy swimming. It will sound like this, to Tom and any neighbor in a five house radius: “PUSSY WANTS TO GO SWIMMING!!” There will be the ten millionth explanation of why you can’t put wooden toys into the tub. There will be whining that the water is too cold (Finn), and simultaneously, too hot (Tate). Inevitably, there will be “DON’T GET WATER ON MY SCRATCH/FAKE TATTOO/CHUCK-E-CHEESE STAMP/BAND-AID!!” There will be screaming. There will be tears, most of them Tom’s.
But out here in my car, all is serene. I can listen to the radio and check my texts. The wireless in the house works just as well out here in front of the parking strip. If the light is good, I might do my nails. Base coat, color, second coat of color, topcoat. It all takes time, but you can’t rush perfection.
From out here, I can quietly enjoy the view of my denuded lawn, which has no plants in it because Tom had them all pulled out last week in a fit of gardening rage. Instead of shrubs, I can now enjoy the hole in the boards below my porch, perfectly sized for rodent entrances and exits. Tom says he will cut and paint a new board to replace the missing one. But that would seem to require woodworking skills of which I’ve seen zero evidence during our 12 years of marriage.
Sometimes if I run out of stuff to do in the car, I’ll run to my mailbox on the porch and then run back to my car with my mail. US Weekly is the best for car reading, but if it’s not Friday, catalogs will do. Frontgate is my favorite. Frontgate is like the Skymall catalog, without the plane. Tom and I play a game on the plane called “Death is Not an Option.” Every page of the Skymall catalog, you have to pick something that you must display in your home. Sometimes the kids play, but they actually want the items. Who says married people are lame? Not me. Married people can squeeze fun from the most sullen, whiny, and ungrateful rocks, not that I ever think of parenting or my kids that way.
I flip some pages in the Frontgate catalog. A Sopranos Craps Shadowbox! Tom would totally pick that. I wish he was out here in the car with me. But it’s impossible, because someone has to be inside the house with my kids.
The light is dimming. Tom’s probably settling in for the 200th reading of the haunting children’s masterpiece known as “Superman v. Mongul.” Or perhaps tonight the boys have chosen the compelling narrative arc of the Lego Star Wars Character Encyclopedia. In particular I really enjoy reading which Lego sets each character can be found in and then hearing “We don’t have that set. Can we buy that set?” Sweet dreams, boys.
I ought to go inside. But I put them to bed last night when Tom was outside in his car checking scores and poring over the Eastbay catalog. Of course, when Tom hides in the car, I run outside with no shoes on and stand menacingly at his window until he gives up and comes inside. I shouldn’t do that. Because I get it. Sometimes, you just need to hide in the car.