I’m lucky to be able to work from home, people say. And I wholeheartedly agree that I’m lucky my employers trust me to accomplish things out from underneath their ability to watch me. Otherwise, a day like today would be a total bust. There is no available daycare or school, so I couldn’t accomplish anything if my work could only be done from my office.
But actually doing the work feels anything but lucky with a 2-year-old and a 5-year-old stuck inside after a blizzard.
To imagine what it’s like, I’ll start with a “choose your own adventure” for you. For reference, Princess is my 5-year-old daughter and Buster is my 2-year-old son.
First,* it will take you anywhere from 45 minutes to 3 hours to be able to settle in and begin to concentrate. During this time you’ll be interrupted every 30 seconds to 2 minutes because someone is thirsty, missing a toy, cold, or suddenly intolerant of the socks they’d chosen to wear this morning.
Then, the kids will fall into a little quiet game of some sort and, finally, you’ll be able to concentrate for a full 5 minutes. You’ll glance up to perform supervisory duties as expected. Here’s what you’ll see:
(Choose a creature: Buster, princess, the dog) is holding a (choose one: pair of scissors, your favorite scarf, a toy car, a lamp) and trying to use it to (choose one: smear, tie, climb, cut, poke) (choose one: peanut butter, curtains, boogers, the couch, your favorite shoes, the cat). Of course, as soon as you begin to request that this behavior end, (choose another creature: Buster, Princess or the dog) decides this is the optimal moment to (choose one: vomit, start yelling loudly for Daddy, poop, start singing, “Do you want to build a snowman?”)
Of course, once that situation has been addressed you’ll begin again at the star. Repeat 3 times.
Next, you’ll turn on the TV so you can get a couple of phone calls in. You wait until both kids are completely engrossed in a show. You pick up your phone. Before you dial, you glance their way again. Both will still be staring at the TV, drinking from sippy cups. “You guys okay?,” you’ll ask, just to test their attention. They don’t respond.
You dial-up Mr. Importantcustomeryouvebeentryingtotalktoforamonth. (We’ll call him Mr. I.) It starts ringing. You glance at the kids – still no movement.
A smile creeps across your face as instead of the usual voicemail, you hear “Hello?”
You open your mouth to speak, but before you do, you’re startled by the two-year-old standing at your knee. He has made it from the couch across the other room to your side silently and impossibly, like one of those haunted dolls from a horror flick.
“I NEED YOU TO HOOOOOOOLD MEEEEEEEEEEE!!!,” he shouts.
“Hello, Mr. I, I’m so glad…” you sputter as you stand up and begin to try to outrun your son.
You try locking yourself in the bathroom but it’s even louder with Buster turning the locked knob repeatedly while shouting “MOMMY HOLD ME MOMMY HOLD ME MOMMY HOLD ME!!!!” so you burst out and head through the kitchen.
“Yes, Mr. I, I have some great news…” You’re starting to sound a little out of breath as you bound backwards up the stairs, gesturing with your best, most serious ‘be quiet’ finger-wagging-angrily-in-front-of-your-mouth face.
“MOMMY, I COME UPSTAIRS TOO??!!! I NEED YOU AND I NEED BRUSH MY TEETH!!!”
You’re violently shaking your head and backing away from the toddler while cheerfully saying, “great, great, we can’t wait to see you. I’ll be glad to…”
You escape out of sight in the upstairs hallway, hurry off the call in about 3 seconds and hang up. You’re ready to tend to whatever emergency caused this behavior from the toddler. Already, you’ve forgotten the entire conversation with Mr. I, including what you’d promised you’d be glad to do.
You race down to bottom of the steps, eyes scanning the entire room to find toddler in dire need of you. You spot him, back on the couch, staring at the boob tube, sippy cup tipped up. It takes you three, “BUSTER MIDDLENAME, what do you need?!”s to get any response.
Finally, he removes the sippy cup with a little slurp and a quiet “What mommy?” oozes all sugary sweet and innocent from his tiny little toddler mouth.
Now, you glare silently as you head back up to the * , expecting in-office tasks to take 4-5x as long at home. Repeat until your husband walks in, asking “How was everybody’s little snow day? At least you didn’t have to be out there in the elements like Daddy!”
If he’s lucky I won’t tell him where he can put his elements.