Steven had to work this weekend, which in and of itself, is not a bad thing. The problem was that this weekend was one of those weekends where we ended up with ALL the kids. So it became clear that I would, for the first time ever, be solely responsible for the care of:
and Gauge, 6 weeks.
My oh my, but that's a buttload of monkeys. But, I thought to myself (rather naively, it turned out), what could go wrong? I'm a strong, independant, intelligent woman. I can handle it. So when 11am Saturday morning rolled around (Jason having been picked up the night before) it was time to go fetch Hunter and Zoe. I left Eowyn, Pierce and Jason at home (6 kids do not fit in a Toyota Corolla) under the (haphazard, it turns out) supervision of my next-door neighbours. Picked up the other two, no problem. Drove home. Grabbed Gauge and various overnight bags and figure-skating paraphenalia (Zoe takes classes) and started upstairs.
I could hear Pierce screaming inside our apartment three floors down, all the way in the stairwell.
Not "bad" screaming. Not "oh god, I tried to make toast and set the kitchen on fire again" screaming. Not "I tried to clip my own nails and accidentally amputated my toe" screaming. The other screaming. The "I hate my sister and in around ten seconds I'm going to make a serious attempt on her life" screaming. Oh christ. I race upstairs and burst in (dark glares for neighbours along the way) screaming myself: What the HELL is going on in here!? Eowyn informs me.
Eowyn: I can't help it. People just push my buttons and then I have to smack the shit out of them.
So I roar at Eowyn to get thee hence to endless night (her bedroom) for smacking "the shit" out of her brother, and for saying "shit", and for generally having a bad attitude about her own ability to control her actions. Pierce, by this point, has slammed himself into his own room. Jason is capering from foot to foot chanting that he had nothing to do with any of this, except as an impartial observer of the fact that it was all Eowyn's doing, and Pierce was utterly innocent. It was a random attack. Gauge starts to howl in his carseat. Zoe and Hunter had been standing in the doorway, struck dumb, but Gauge's protests that I've allowed myself to get more than a boob-length away start Hunter crying that the baby is crying.
HOLD ON A SEC! I holler. I have yet to see if Eowyn managed to do any real damage to Pierce, beyond driving him into an apoplectic fit of rage. The girl's a moose, and has, in the past, used one brother to hold down the other so she can smack "the shit" out of both of them simultaneously. So I go to the boys' bedroom door.
Unfortunately, Pierce was right on the other side. When I started to open it, he hurled himself at it bodily, screaming that he wanted to be left alone. The door slammed on my right hand middle finger. I started with: WAAAAAAARGHHHHH! I followed up with various terms I learned in the army. Then I had that, you know, death-to-my-attacker reaction, almost completely unconsciously. Apparently I first blamed the door, which I proceded to kick in. Then I blamed Pierce, but he is after all, the smartest monkey I've got, so even as the door flew in he was already en route to the furthest reaches of under-the-bed squealing "I'm sorry! I'm sorry!" all the way.
So now all my stepkids have gotten to hear some of the more questionable terms known to the english language, and gotten to see me boot in a door and attempt to murder one of my own. Did I mention we were all of 45 seconds into my first ever all-alone with the kids weekend? The neighbour beat a hasty retreat. I took advantage of the deathly silence (even Gauge stopped crying) to do my little stompy-stompy owie-owie dance in the bathroom and check out my finger.
The story gets less interesting from here on in - mostly just about how fun it is to spend 3 hours in an emergency room with six kids. The finger is not broken, although this should sound familiar to some: they called it "the worst sprain...". Sigh. And no, like the time I sprained my foot, I put on too good a show with the not freaking out the kids, and therefore did not even score so much as codeine for my troubles. (Yes, Kif is breastfeeding, but with all my various recent operations poor ole Gauge has already sampled a rather dizzying (literally) array of narcotics second-hand). Then off to figure-skating, then home, and by the time Steven got home I'd somehow managed to import a few extra neighbour-kids and there was... er... I dunno... between eight and ten kids arranged artfully around the livingroom howling in two languages (with translations going back and forth) about The Dukes of Hazzard. Too bad the '69 Charger doesn't have 8-passenger seating.
The moral of the story is that blended families are awesome, not only for the looks of dismay and horror on the nurses' faces when they call your name into triage and you drag EVERY kid in the waiting room in with you, but also because they really do try and get you through faster, just to lower the ambient decibel level. Try bringing along a peewee baseball team to your next doctor visit, you'll see. But also because once the questions, comments, requests, whines, accusations, and recriminations start to crack even YOUR facade, you can say the following:
"Let me remind you freaks that if you can't hold it together and act semi-civilized for one freakin' afternoon, then I am perfectly capable, busted-up finger or not, of taking YOU two home to your mother, YOU home to your maman, and YOU two to your dads for the rest of the weekend."
Today I have an appointment with my "regular" doctor, who just got off vacation to discover a three-inch thick file on my recent medical woes. I am trying not to get my hopes up. My prediction, I tell him my tale, he says that's too bad. I tell him about my gut-pain and the occassional blood-loss, the impact on my urinary continence (oh joy), and the fact that my sex life has reverted to teenager status (actually, this has been kinda fun) on account of all this - he will again commiserate and then send me home... because the horrifying thing about women's health is not so much the fact that there is so little known about it, but the fact that even when they do know, they don't really seem to care. After all, who among us over the age of twenty-five has not heard the words "We don't know precisely WHY this is happening, but it's umm... pretty much within the realm of normal... just come back if it gets worse" from a gynecologist?
As Steven put it, upon inspecting my poor black and blue crushed-up fuck-you finger, "If I went in there with a hangnail, I'd come out with a splint and opiates. If you went in there with a sucking chest wound, I'd be surprised if they gave you a bandaid. You know what your problem is? You don't scream and cry enough."
I'm willing to practice.